Marc Ona Essangui is an activist in Gabon fighting both his government and the Chinese company CMEC’s plan to harvest Iron Ore in the ecology sensitive Ivindo National Park. He is the recipient of the San Francisco based Goldman Environmental Prize, brainchild of Richard & the late Rhoda Goldman, two of the City’s brightest philanthropic and humanitarian lights.
Resource exploitation is one of the foundations of growth. The global economy cannot produce all the outputs needed for capitalism to survive without raw material for production. Most of the harvesting of these raw materials happen in far off places like Gabon, and most consumers do not care if some poor black or brown tribe gets stepped on in the name of progress. But it is the basics, things like iron, steel and wood, that goes into our structures when we build. If we don’t become conscious of what we are using on the back end, communities like Marc’s, and in the end our own as well, will fall.
Marc has been a grass roots leader in Gabon, leading his NGO “Brainforest” to advocate for the rights of the people and environment of Gabon in the face of international resource acquisition. His work has lead to threats, arrest and restrictions for both him and his family, but he continues to press for sustainable policies in Gabon & by extension, here in the US.