2002 Associate Laureate, Environment
Mexico, Born 1953
Formerly a teacher and accomplished musician, Martha “Pati” Ruiz Corzo gave up her violin and accordion to take up the challenge of protecting the environment in the Sierra Gorda Mountains of Mexico.
Her method of combining conservation with the empowerment of the local people gained her a Rolex Award in 2002. Ruiz Corzo, born in 1953, understood that the involvement of poor families in her multifaceted programmes was essential for sustainability of the region’s rich biodiversity.
In 1997, ten years after forming the Sierra Gorda Ecological Group, she successfully lobbied for the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, of which she remains director, among other conservation organizations. The Award helped her to withstand attacks by detractors and opened doors. The Earth Centre training facility is one example.
Solidifying her work and moving on, Ruiz Corzo has begun carbon and water programmes, a compensation scheme, ecotourism, and is linking locals with international investors.
Published in 2009