The Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The 2019 Award goes to Aminatou Haidar (Western Sahara), Guo Jianmei (China), Greta Thunberg (Sweden) and Davi Kopenawa / Hutukara Yanomami Association (Brazil). The Laureates were announced in Stockholm, Sweden, today.
The announcement was made during a press conference at the International Press Centre at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation, commented: “With the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, we honour four practical visionaries whose leadership has empowered millions of people to defend their inalienable rights and to strive for a liveable future for all on planet Earth. Besides the prize money, we offer the Laureates long-term support and will help protect those whose lives and liberty are in danger.”
The international jury has selected four Laureates who will each receive 1 million SEK (94,000 EUR):
The human rights defender Aminatou Haidar (Western Sahara) receives the Right Livelihood Award “for her steadfast nonviolent action, despite imprisonment and torture, in pursuit of justice and self-determination for the people of Western Sahara”.
Over 30 years of peaceful campaigning for the independence of her homeland have earned Haidar the byname “Sahrawi Gandhi”. Her dignity and resolve make her one of the most respected leaders among the Sahrawis. It is the first time that a Right Livelihood Award goes to a Laureate from Western Sahara.
Aminatou Haidar commented:
“I feel very honored to receive the renowned Right Livelihood Award. This is a recognition of my non-violent struggle and the just cause of the Sahrawi people. Despite military occupation and violations of fundamental human rights, they continue their peaceful struggle. The Sahrawis deserve to be supported by all so that, one day, they will achieve independence and freedom.”
The lawyer Guo Jianmei (China) receives the Right Livelihood Award “for her pioneering and persistent work in securing women’s rights in China”.
Guo is one of the most distinguished lawyers in the field of women’s rights in China. Throughout her career, she has helped thousands of disadvantaged women in getting access to justice.
Guo Jianmei commented:
“This award recognises and acknowledges the efforts of my team and me to uphold women’s rights and promote democracy and the rule of law in China, under difficult circumstances for the past 25 years. Currently, pro bono legal work in China is facing enormous challenges. To stand firm, we will need more passion, courage, perseverance and commitment. This award serves as an encouragement and motivation.”
Climate activist Greta Thunberg (Sweden) receives the Right Livelihood Award “for inspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts”.
Thunberg is the powerful voice of a young generation that will have to bear the consequences of today’s political failure to stop climate change. Her resolve to not put up with the looming climate disaster has inspired millions of peers to also raise their voices and demand immediate climate action.
Greta Thunberg commented:
“I’m deeply grateful for being one of the recipients of this great honour. But of course, whenever I receive an award, it is not me who is the winner. I am part of a global movement of school children, youth and adults of all ages who have decided to act in defence of our living planet. I share this award with them. The Right Livelihood Award is a huge recognition for Fridays For Future and the climate strike movement. Thank you so very much!”
Indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa of the Yanomami people, and the Hutukara Yanomami Association (Brazil) jointly receive the Right Livelihood Award “for their courageous determination to protect the forests and biodiversity of the Amazon, and the lands and culture of its indigenous peoples”.
Kopenawa is one of the most respected indigenous leaders in Brazil. He has dedicated his life to protecting Yanomami rights, their culture and lands in the Amazon. Kopenawa is co-founder and President of the Hutukara Yanomami Association which is conserving the rainforest and advancing indigenous rights in Brazil.
Davi Kopenawa commented:
“I am very happy to receive the award. It comes just at the right time and it is a show of trust in me and Hutukara and all those who defend the forest and planet Earth. The Award gives me the strength to continue the fight to defend the soul of the Amazon forest. We, the peoples of the planet, need to preserve our cultural heritage as Omame [the Creator] taught – to live well caring for our land so that future generations continue to use it.”
The international jury considered 142 nominations from 59 countries, after an open nomination process. The prize money is designated to support the Laureates’ work, it is not for personal use.
Laureates will receive their prizes at the 2019 Right Livelihood Award Celebration in Stockholm on 4 December. As the Award celebrates 40 years, the public is for the first time ever invited to participate in its presentation. Edward Snowden, who received the Right Livelihood Award in 2014, will join the celebration via link from Moscow and the artists José González and Ane Brun will perform at the event. Tickets for the Award Celebration are available via Cirkus.se.