Right Livelihood Award

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Right Livelihood Award
Right Livelihood Award.png
Awarded for"practical and exemplary solutions to the most urgent challenges facing the world today"
Presented byRight Livelihood Award Foundation
First awarded1980
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 is an international award to "honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today."[1] The prize was established in 1980 by German-Swedish philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull, and is presented annually in early December.[2] 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.[3] The prize money is shared among the winners, usually numbering four, and is EUR 200,000.[4] Very often one of the four laureates receives an honorary award, which means that the other three share the prize money.[3]

Although it is promoted as an "Alternative Nobel Prize",[5][6][7][8][9] it is not a Nobel prize (i.e., a prize created by Alfred Nobel). It does not have any organizational ties at all to the awarding institutions of the Nobel Prize or the Nobel Foundation, unlike the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, which is not technically a Nobel prize but is administered by the Nobel Foundation.

However, the Right Livelihood Award is sometimes popularly associated with the Nobel prizes. The Right Livelihood Award committee arranged for awards to be made in the Riksdag of Sweden the day before the Nobel prizes and the economics prize are also awarded in Stockholm. However, the Right Livelihood Awards are understood as a critique of the traditional Nobel prizes.[9] 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, Leopold Kohr, Arna Mer-Khamis, Felicia Langer, Petra Kelly, Survival International, Amy Goodman, Catherine Hamlin, Memorial, Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg, and Greta Thunberg.


Since 1985, the ceremony has taken place in Stockholm's old Parliament building, in the days 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. However, in 2014 when it became public that one of the recipients of the 2014 prize was whistleblower Edward Snowden, the ceremonial group was disinvited from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs building in Stockholm.[10]

In 2019, marking the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Award, the ceremony was held at Cirkus before a live audience of more than 1,200 people. World-renowned artists such as José González and Ane Brun were among the night's performers.[11]

Nature of the award[edit]

Some media refer to the prize as the Alternative Nobel Prize,[3] and the prize is frequently understood as a critique of the traditional Nobel prizes.[9]

The prize differs significantly from the Nobel Prizes:

  • 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;[4]
  • the prize money is considerably lower than that of the Nobel Prize. Currently it is €200,000 compared to about €1,000,000 for a Nobel Prize;
  • the funds for the prizes now come from donations[1] while the Nobel Prizes come from the revenue of Alfred Nobel's fortune. The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (which is technically not a Nobel Prize) is financed by the Sveriges Riksbank.


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

Jakob von Uexküll, a philanthropist, sold his stamp collection worth one million US dollars, which provided the initial funding for the award. Before establishing the award in 1980, von Uexkull had tried to persuade the Nobel Foundation to establish new prizes to be awarded together with the Nobel Prizes. He suggested new prize categories to be created: one in ecology and one in development.[13] Like the Nobel Economics Prize, this would have been possible with 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]

From 1980–2019, the foundation presented awards to 178 Laureates from 70 countries.[17] Its self-described purpose is to bestow prizes and thus publicize the work of recipients' local solutions to worldwide problems.[18]


Year Laureates[19] Country
Hassan Fathy  Egypt
Plenty International / Stephen Gaskin  United States
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
Sir George Trevelyan, Bt  United Kingdom
Leopold Kohr  Austria
Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins / Rocky Mountain Institute  United States
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)  United States
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  United States
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  United States
Bernard Lédéa Ouédraogo [de]  Burkina Faso
Felicia Langer  Israel
Association of Peasant Workers of the Carare (Asociación de Trabajadores Campesinos del Carare)  Colombia
Edward Goldsmith  United Kingdom
Narmada Bachao Andolan  India
Bengt Danielsson & Marie-Thérèse Danielsson  Sweden /  France
Senator Jeton Anjain / the People of Rongelap  Marshall Islands
Landless Workers' Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) / CPT (Commissão Pastoral da Terra)  Brazil
Finnish Village Action Movement [fr] (Kylätoiminta)  Finland
Gonoshasthaya Kendra / Zafrullah Chowdhury  Bangladesh
Helen Mack  Guatemala
John Gofman / Alla Yaroshinskaya  United States /  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
Astrid Lindgren  Sweden
SERVOL (Service Volunteered for All)  Trinidad and Tobago
Dr. H. Sudarshan / VGKK (Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra  India
Ken Saro-Wiwa / Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People  Ogoniland, Nigeria
András Bíró / Hungarian Foundation for Self-Reliance  Hungary
Serb Civic Council  Bosnia and Herzegovina
Carmel Budiardjo / TAPOL  Indonesia /  United Kingdom
Sulak Sivaraksa  Thailand
Herman Daly  United States
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  United States
International Baby Food Action Network
Samuel Epstein  United States
Juan Pablo Orrego  Chile
Katarina Kruhonja / Vesna Terselic  Croatia
Hermann Scheer  Germany
Juan Garcés [es]  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  United States
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  United States
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  United States
Asha Haji Elmi  Somalia
Monika Hauser  Italy
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  United States
Campaign Against Arms Trade  United States
Gene Sharp  United States
Hayrettin Karaca [tr; fr]  Turkey
Sima Samar  Afghanistan
Paul Walker  United States
Hans Rudolf Herren and Biovision Foundation   Switzerland
Raji Sourani  Gaza Strip
Denis Mukwege  Democratic Republic of the Congo
Bill McKibben and 350.org  United States
Basil Fernando and AHRC  Hong Kong SAR, China
Asma Jahangir  Pakistan
Alan Rusbridger  United Kingdom
Edward Snowden  United States
Sheila Watt-Cloutier  Canada
Tony deBrum  Marshall Islands
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera  Uganda
Gino Strada  Italy
Cumhuriyet  Turkey
Syrian Civil Defense  Syria
Mozn Hassan and Nazra for Feminist Studies  Egypt
Svetlana Gannushkina  Russia
Robert Bilott  United States
Colin Gonsalves  India
Khadija Ismayilova  Azerbaijan
Yetnebersh Nigussie  Ethiopia
Thelma Aldana, Iván Velásquez  Guatemala  Colombia
Yacouba Sawadogo  Burkina Faso
Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani, Walid Abu al-Chair  Saudi Arabia
Tony Rinaudo  Australia
Greta Thunberg  Sweden
Aminatou Haidar  Western Sahara
Davi Kopenawa Yanomami  Brazil
Guo Jianmei  China
Nasrin Sotoudeh  Iran
Bryan Stevenson  United States
Lottie Cunningham Wren  Nicaragua
Ales Bialiatski  Belarus

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ministry for Foreign Affairs (26 September 2013). "The 2013 Right Livelihood Laureates announced". Government Offices of Sweden. Archived from the original on 3 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-14.
  2. ^ Jawetz, Pincas. 30th Right Livelihood Awards: Wake-up calls to secure our common future. SustainabiliTank. 13 Oct. 2009.
  3. ^ 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 81-317-0074-7.
  4. ^ a b About the Right Livelihood Award Archived 2011-08-11 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed October 26, 2010.
  5. ^ "Indians win 'alternative Nobel'". BBC. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  6. ^ "Peace and Social Justice Workers Receive Alternative Nobel Prize". Deutsche Welle. 1 October 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Global activists honoured with 'Alternative Nobel' prize". The Local. 30 September 2010. Archived from the original on 2 October 2010. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  8. ^ "Israeli doctors' group wins 'alternative' Nobel prize". BBC. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  9. ^ a b c "Alternativer Nobelpreis: Kampf gegen Klimawandel, Armut, Kriege ausgezeichnet". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 13 October 2009. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  10. ^ "Edward Snowden inte välkommen till UD". Aftonbladet. Aftonbladet. 24 September 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  11. ^ 2019 Right Livelihood Award Presentation, retrieved 2020-01-08
  12. ^ Right Livelihood Award: Proposals & Selection Process. Accessed January 24, 2010.
  13. ^ "Right Livelihood Award: History - Setting up the 'Alternative Nobel Prize'". Rightlivelihood.org. Archived from the original on 2012-08-29. Retrieved 2012-07-28.
  14. ^ "The Nobel Prize Amounts". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2012-07-28.
  15. ^ "historical exchange rate".
  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. (in Swedish)
  17. ^ "About the Right Livelihood Award". The Right Livelihood Award. Retrieved 2020-01-08.
  18. ^ "Right Livelihood Award history". Archived from the original on June 20, 2010.
  19. ^ "Laureates". Right Livelihood Foundation. Retrieved 27 March 2020.


External links[edit]