Ricardo Navarro is founder and director of the Salvadoran Centre for Appropriate Technology (CESTA), El Salvador’s largest environmental NGO, which focuses on the country’s critical environmental and social needs. The work of CESTA is essential in a country where the protracted civil war hurt the environment to such an extent that it is now the most degraded country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti.
An engineer by training, Ricardo has worked in partnership with urban and rural communities to provide technical assistance for an array of projects. One project, Ecobici, teaches people how to make and use human-powered machines such as bicycle carts to collect rubbish, pedal-driven corn grinders, air compressors, and water pumps.
Bicycle power is one of his passions, and translates into wheelchairs made at the Centre’s workshops for the impoverished victims of the civil conflicts that have gripped El Salvador. Another CESTA initiative, Econciencia, is an education-based initiative working with academics, community and church activists, trade unionists and students to promote what Ricardo calls ‘rational thought’ about sustainability.
He has served as president of Friends of the Earth International and won the prestigious Goldman prize, often described as the green equivalent of the Nobel Prize. He sees political struggle as entirely consistent with his other ...