Jacqueline “Jacqui” Evans

Jacqueline “Jacqui” Evans (Photo credit: Goldman Environmental Foundation.)

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa master’s graduate in geography has won the 2019 Goldman Environmental Prize for her tenacious work in trying to protect the oceans around her native Cook Islands.

Conservationist Jacqueline “Jacqui” Evans, who earned her MA at the College of Social Sciences in 2006, led a five-year grassroots campaign to protect the stunning marine biodiversity in the Cook Islands.

In July 2017, due to Evans’ leadership, the South Pacific nation enacted new legislation—Marae Moana—to sustainably manage and strive to conserve 763,000 square miles of the country’s ocean territory.

“Since obtaining her master’s degree, Jacqui has been an environmental champion for the Cook Islands, now resulting in this prestigious honor,” said Reece Jones, professor and chair of the Department of Geography and Environment. “We offer huge congratulations on her efforts.”

This is the first Goldman Environmental Prize for a resident of the Cook Islands.

More about the award

The Goldman Environmental Prize honors grassroots environmental heroes from the world’s six inhabited continental regions of Africa; Asia; Europe, Islands and Island Nations; North America; and South and Central America. The Goldman Prize views “grassroots” leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.

fisherman and woman observing the ocean

Jacqui Evans with a local Cook Islands fisherman. (Photo credit: Goldman Environmental Foundation.)