December 2, 2020


The World Maritime University is delighted to announce that PhD candidate, Kristal Ambrose, is the 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize recipient for Islands and Island Nations. The prestigious Goldman Prize is the world’s foremost environmental prize and honours outstanding environmental activism through community and citizen participation on critical sustainability issues facing the planet.

Kristal founded the Bahamas Plastic Movement in 2013 to develop solutions to plastic pollution and to educate young people on the importance of a clean and healthy ocean. The international jury selected Kristal for her extraordinary leadership, operating outside of the traditional power structures and marshaling science, advocacy, and youth empowerment to get The Bahamas focused on plastics, including convincing the government to enact a nation-wide single-use plastic ban. The nationwide ban went into effect in January 2020 and can be considered a model for Islands and Island States worldwide.

Kristal joined WMU in September 2020 to undertake a PhD focused on plastic pollution as part of the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute’s Closing the Circle capacity development and research programme on marine debris, Sargassum and marine spatial planning in the Eastern Caribbean. The programme is underpinned by generous funding from The Nippon Foundation of Japan and supports six PhD students undertaking advanced academic research on overcoming the challenges associated with marine debris in the Caribbean.

Photo credit: Goldman Environmental Prize

On receipt of the award, Kristal shared her joy saying, ‘Receiving both the Goldman Environmental Prize and The Nippon Foundation Scholarship to join the World Maritime University’s WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute promotes feelings of humility, gratitude and pride. I'm honored to be recognized at this level and feel extremely motivated to continue advocating for healthier oceans’.

Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU, congratulated Kristal on her accomplishment. “We are so pleased that Kristal’s dedication and hard work on eliminating ocean plastics in The Bahamas has been recognized by the award of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. This award acknowledges the inspirational leadership, hard work and community commitment of a very talented WMU doctoral candidate who is having a definitive impact in the fight to save our oceans, and ensure sustainable use of the planet for future generations.”

Normally, the winners are awarded the Prize in-person at a ceremony at the San Francisco Opera House coinciding with Earth Day in April, but this year, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the Prize was awarded virtually on 30 November 30 2020.