Right Livelihood Award

Right Livelihood Award
Right Livelihood Award
Awarded for "practical and exemplary solutions to the most urgent challenges facing the world today"
Presented by Right Livelihood Award Foundation
Country Sweden
First awarded 1980
Official website rightlivelihood.org
The award ceremony in the Riksdag of Sweden in 2009
The 2009 award is presented to David Suzuki by Jakob von Uexkull (right) and European Commissioner Margot Wallström (left)

The Right Livelihood Award, also referred to as the "Alternative Nobel Prize"[1][2][3][4][5], is a prestigious[1] international award to honour those "working on practical and exemplary solutions to the most urgent challenges facing the world today". The prize was established in 1980 by Jakob von Uexkull, and is presented annually in early December.[6] An international jury, invited by the five regular Right Livelihood Award board members, decides the awards in such fields as environmental protection, human rights, sustainable development, health, education, and peace.[7] The prize money is shared among the winners, usually numbering four, and is EUR 200,000.[8] Very often one of the four Laureates receives an Honorary Award, which means that the other three share the Prize money.[7]

Somewhat similar to the economics prize, it is not a Nobel prize (i.e., a prize created by Alfred Nobel). However, unlike the economics prize it does not have any organizational ties to the awarding institutions of the Nobel Prize or the Nobel Foundation.

It is often popularly associated with the Nobel prizes, being awarded in the Riksdag of Sweden the day before the Nobel prizes and the economics prize are also awarded in Stockholm, and being understood as a critique of the traditional Nobel prizes.[5] The establishment of the award followed a failed attempt to have the Nobel Foundation create new prizes in the areas of environmental protection, sustainable development and human rights. The prize has been awarded to a diverse group of people and organisations, including Wangari Maathai, Astrid Lindgren, Bianca Jagger, Mordechai Vanunu, Petra Kelly and Memorial.

Democracy Now! describes the prize as "widely recognized as the world’s premier award for personal courage and social transformation".[9]



Since 1985, the ceremony has taken place in the Stockholm old Parliament building, the day before the traditional Nobel prizes are awarded in the same city. A group of Swedish Parliamentarians from different parties host the ceremony, in 2009 European Commissioner Margot Wallström co-hosted the ceremony.

Nature of the award

The prize is widely[1] referred to in the media as the Alternative Nobel Prize,[7] a name that entered usage in the media in the 1980s, though mostly the two names are mentioned alongside.[10] The usage differs somewhat by country, in both French and German-speaking Europe, the prize is almost exclusively referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize.[11] The prize is frequently understood as a critique of the traditional Nobel prizes.[5]

The prize differs significantly from the Nobel Prizes:

  • similar to the Sveriges Riksbank economics prize, it is not a fulfillment of Alfred Nobel's bequest and thus not one of Nobel's own prizes
  • it has an open nomination process (anyone can nominate anyone else, except close relatives or their own organizations);[12]
  • it is not limited to specific categories.[8]
  • its prize money is considerably lower than the one of the Nobel Prize. Currently it is 200,000 € compared to about 1,000,000 € for a Nobel Prize.
  • the funds for the prizes are continually acquired by donations, while the Nobel Prizes come from the revenue of Alfred Nobel's fortune. The economics prize is financed by Sveriges Riksbank.


The 1994 award given to Dr. Sudarshan photographed in BR Hills

Jakob von Uexküll sold his valuable stamp collection to create a prize. He made one million US-dollars which provided the initial funding of the award. Before establishing the award in 1980, von Uexkull had tried to interest the Nobel Foundation in a new prize to be awarded together with the Nobel Prizes. He suggested the establishment of two new prizes, one for ecology and one for development[13]. Like the Economics Prize, this would have possible by an amendment to the Nobel Foundation statutes and funding of the prize amount completely separate from Nobel's fortune. The Nobel Prize amount was 880,000 Swedish kronor at that time[14], which corresponded to 195,000 US-Dollars[15]. However, as a result of the debate that followed the establishment of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel (first awarded in 1969), the Nobel Foundation had decided not to associate the Nobel Prize with any additional awards, so von Uexküll's proposal was rejected.[16]

The award states that, in the 21st century, the "greatest benefit to mankind" may be found in different fields than in the traditional sciences or in strict categories: the vast majority of award winners work for grassroots non-governmental organisations in their countries. The foundation understands its awards as a complement to the Nobel Prizes.[17]

Since 1980, the foundation has presented, as of 2010, awards to 141 individuals and organisations from 59 countries.[18] Its purpose is both to bestow prizes and to publicize the work of its recipients' local solutions to problems that also exist worldwide.[19]


Year Laureates Country
Hassan Fathy  Egypt
Plenty International  US
Mike Cooley  United Kingdom
Bill Mollison  Australia
Patrick van Rensburg / Education with Production  Botswana
 South Africa
Erik Dammann / Future in Our Hands  Norway
Anwar Fazal  Malaysia
Petra Kelly  West Germany
Participatory Institute for Development Alternatives  Sri Lanka
George Trevelyan  United Kingdom
Leopold Kohr  Austria
Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins / Rocky Mountain Institute  US
Manfred Max-Neef / CEPAUR  Chile
High Chief Ibedul Gibbons and the People of Belau  Palau
Imane Khalifeh  Lebanon
Self-Employed Women's Association / Ela Bhatt  India
Winefreda Geonzon / Free Legal Assistance Volunteers' Association (FREE LAVA)  Philippines
Wangari Maathai / Green Belt Movement  Kenya
Theo Van Boven  Netherlands
Cary Fowler (Rural Advancement Fund International)  US
Pat Mooney (Rural Advancement Fund International)  Canada
Lokayan / Rajni Kothari  India
Duna Kör  Hungary
Robert Jungk  Austria
Rosalie Bertell  Canada
Alice Stewart  United Kingdom
Ladakh Ecological Development Group / Helena Norberg-Hodge  India
Evaristo Nugkuag / AIDESEP  Peru
Johan Galtung  Norway
Chipko movement  India
Hans-Peter Dürr / Global Challenges Network  West Germany
Institute for Food and Development Policy / Frances Moore Lappé  US
Mordechai Vanunu  Israel
International Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims / Dr. Inge Kemp Genefke  Denmark
José Lutzenberger  Brazil
John F. Charlewood Turner  United Kingdom
Sahabat Alam Malaysia / Mohammed Idris, Harrison Ngau, the Penan people  Malaysia
Seikatsu Club Consumers' Co-operative Union  Japan
Melaku Worede  Ethiopia
Aklilu Lemma / Legesse Wolde-Yohannes  Ethiopia
Survival International  United Kingdom
Alice Tepper Marlin / Council on Economic Priorities  US
Bernard Lédéa Ouedraogo  Burkina Faso
Felicia Langer  Israel
ATCC (Asociación de Trabajadores Campesinos del Carare)  Colombia
Edward Goldsmith  United Kingdom
Narmada Bachao Andolan  India
Bengt Danielsson & Marie-Thérèse Danielsson French Polynesia Polynesia
Senator Jeton Anjain / the People of Rongelap  Marshall Islands
Landless Workers' Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais sem Terra) / CPT (Commissao Pastoral da Terra)  Brazil
Finnish Village Action Movement (Kylätoiminta)  Finland
Gonoshasthaya Kendra / Zafrullah Chowdhury  Bangladesh
Helen Mack  Guatemala
John Gofman / Alla Yaroshinskaya  US /  Ukraine
Arna Mer-Khamis / Care and Learning  Israel
Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress / Sithembiso Nyoni  Zimbabwe
Vandana Shiva  India
Mary and Carrie Dann of the Western Shoshone Nation United States North America
Astrid Lindgren  Sweden
SERVOL (Service Volunteered for All)  Trinidad & Tobago
Dr. H. Sudarshan / VGKK (Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra(for working of soliga tribes in MM hills) India Karnataka, India
Ken Saro-Wiwa / Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People Nigeria Ogoniland, Nigeria
András Biró / Hungarian Foundation for Self-Reliance  Hungary
Serb Civic Council  Bosnia and Herzegovina
Carmel Budiardjo / TAPOL  Indonesia /  United Kingdom
Sulak Sivaraksa  Thailand
Herman Daly  US
Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia  Russia
People's Science Movement of Kerala (Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad)  India
George Vithoulkas  Greece
Joseph Ki-Zerbo  Burkina Faso
Jinzaburo Takagi  Japan
Mycle Schneider  France
Michael Succow  Germany
Cindy Duehring  US
International Baby Food Action Network
Samuel Epstein  US
Juan Pablo Orrego  Chile
Katarina Kruhonja / Vesna Terselic  Croatia
Hermann Scheer  Germany
Juan Garcés  Spain
COAMA (Consolidation of the Amazon Region)  Colombia
Grupo de Agricultura Orgánica  Cuba
Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher  Ethiopia
Munir  Indonesia
Birsel Lemke  Turkey
Wes Jackson  US
José Antonio Abreu  Venezuela
Gush Shalom / Rachel and Uri Avnery  Israel
Leonardo Boff  Brazil
Trident Ploughshares  United Kingdom
Martin Green  Australia
Kamenge Youth Centre (Centre Jeunes Kamenge)  Burundi
Kvinna Till Kvinna  Sweden
Martín Almada  Paraguay
David Lange  New Zealand
Walden Bello / Nicanor Perlas  Philippines
Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice  South Korea
SEKEM and Ibrahim Abouleish  Egypt
Swami Agnivesh / Asghar Ali Engineer  India
Memorial Society  Russia
Bianca Jagger  Nicaragua
Raúl Montenegro  Argentina
Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke  Canada
Irene Fernandez  Malaysia
Roy Sesana and First People of the Kalahari  Botswana
Francisco Toledo  Mexico
Daniel Ellsberg  US
Ruth Manorama  India
Chico Whitaker  Brazil
International Poetry Festival of Medellín  Colombia
Christopher Weeramantry  Sri Lanka
Dekha Ibrahim Abdi  Kenya
Percy Schmeiser and Louise Schmeiser  Canada
Grameen Shakti  Bangladesh
Krishnammal Jagannathan and Sankaralingam Jagannathan LAFTI  India
Amy Goodman  US
Asha Haji Elmi  Somalia
Monika Hauser  Germany
Catherine Hamlin  Australia
René Ngongo  Democratic Republic of the Congo
David Suzuki  Canada
Alyn Ware  New Zealand
Nnimmo Bassey  Nigeria
Erwin Kräutler  Austria
Shrikrishna Upadhyay  Nepal
Physicians for Human Rights  Israel
Huang Ming  China
Jacqueline Moudeina  Chad
Ina May Gaskin  US

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Indians win 'alternative Nobel'". BBC. 2 October 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7647718.stm. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "Peace and Social Justice Workers Receive Alternative Nobel Prize". Deutsche Welle. 01.10.2008. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,3683051,00.html. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  3. ^ "Global activists honoured with 'Alternative Nobel' prize". The Local. 30 Sep 10. http://www.thelocal.se/29344/20100930/. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "Israeli doctors' group wins 'alternative' Nobel prize". BBC. 30 September 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11445709. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c "Alternativer Nobelpreis: Kampf gegen Klimawandel, Armut, Kriege ausgezeichnet". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 13 October 2009. http://www.faz.net/s/RubBF80E0BCB9BE4D30B11BB6D4CFBD637E/Doc~E2D25260C587C4598BA448B223C540BEC~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Jawetz, Pincas. 30th Right Livelihood Awards: Wake-up calls to secure our common future. SustainabiliTank. 13 Oct. 2009.
  7. ^ a b c Thorpe, Edgar; Thorpe, Showick. "General Awareness: Right Livelihood Award". Guide to the Combined Defence Services Exam. New Delhi: Pearson Education. p. 26. ISBN 8131700747. 
  8. ^ a b About the Right Livelihood Award. Accessed October 26, 2010.
  9. ^ "Amy Goodman First Journalist to Win "Alternative Nobel"". Democracy Now!. October 01, 2008. http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2008/10/1/amy_goodman_first_journalist_to_win_alternative_nobel. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  10. ^ "Outlook". BBC World Service. 26/10/2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00bf8hn. Retrieved 23 March 2011. 
  11. ^ http://www.domradio.de/aktuell/69749/mein-preis-ehrt-auch-opfer-und-mitstreiter.html
  12. ^ Right Livelihood Award: Proposals & Selection Process. Accessed January 24, 2010.
  13. ^ http://rightlivelihood.org/history.html
  14. ^ http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/about/amounts.html
  15. ^ according to historical exchange rate from [1]
  16. ^ TT-DN (2003-10-02). Alternativt Nobelpris delas på fem. Dagens Nyheter, "Publicerat 2003-10-02 10:08". Retrieved from http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?a=188389. (Swedish)
  17. ^ Right Livelihood Foundation (2007-10-02). "2007 Right Livelihood Awards highlight solutions to global challenges". Right Livelihood Foundation. http://www.rightlivelihood.org/2007_10_02.html. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  18. ^ Right Livelihood Award
  19. ^ Right Livelihood Award history


External links

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