The Right Livelihood Award – known as the “Alternative Nobel” – was awarded Wednesday to three activists and an organization working across the globe to empower communities in areas ranging from child protection to environmental defence.
The Swedish Right Livelihood Foundation, which awards the prize, said that “in the face of the worsening climate crisis, powerful governmental and corporate interests, and even a terrorist threat, the 2021 Laureates prove that solidarity is key to a better future for all.”
The winners include Indigenous rights campaigner Freda Huson of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in B.C., who was awarded for “her fearless dedication to reclaiming her people’s culture and defending their land against disastrous pipeline projects.”
The foundation also recognized Marthe Wandou, a gender and peace activist who has worked to prevent sexual violence against girls since the 1990s in the Lake Chad area of Cameroon, and to care for its victims.
Russian environmental campaigner Vladimir Slivyak was honoured for helping to ignite grassroots opposition to the coal and nuclear industries in the country. He co-founded Ecodefense, which it described as one of Russia’s leading environmental organizations.
Finally, the India-based Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment, or LIFE, uses the law and legal processes to empower often vulnerable communities and help them stand up against powerful interests and have a voice in the decision-making process, the foundation said.
In a statement, Ole von Uexkull, head of the Right Livelihood, said the four laureates “are courageous mobilisers who show what peoples’ movements can achieve.”
Created in 1980, the annual Right Livelihood Award honours efforts that the prize founder, Swedish-German philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull, felt were being ignored by the Nobel prizes.
The winners will each receive prize money of one million kronor (US$115, 520) and will be honoured during a virtual award ceremony on Dec. 1.
The foundation said that a record number of 206 nominees from 89 countries were considered in 2021. Recipients of the Right Livelihood Award in recent years have included Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, U.S. civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson and imprisoned Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.
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