Swedish teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg has been awarded the Right Livelihood Award, often called the ‘alternative Nobel Prize.’ According to the Right Livelihood Foundation, she won the award “for inspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts.”
She has been in the news recently for her fiery speech at the UN Summit on Climate Change, where she castigated world leaders for their inaction towards climate change.
Apart from Thunberg, three others were conferred the honour. Human rights activist Aminatou Haidar was presented the honour “for her steadfast nonviolent action, despite imprisonment and torture, in pursuit of justice and self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.”
Chinese lawyer and human rights activist Guo Jianmei was bestowed the honour for “for her pioneering and persistent work in securing women’s rights in China.”
Also, Davi Kopenawa from Brazil and her Hutukara Yanomami Association were given the honour “for their courageous determination to protect the forests and biodiversity of the Amazon, and the lands and culture of its indigenous peoples.”
What is the Right Livelihood Award?
Established in 1980 by Swedish-German philanthropist and stamp collector Jakob von Uexkull, the Right Livelihood Award was instituted to “honour and support courageous people solving global problems.”
The history of how the awards came into being is also very interesting. Alarmed at the disconnect between the global problems and the response and action of the global community towards them, Jakob wanted to highlight people who were working towards global causes. He believed that those who were awarded the Nobel Prize had a high standing and were listened to. With this intention, he approached the Nobel Foundation for instituting two new awards – one environmental award and the other to promote the knowledge and perspective of people in poor nations.
Unfortunately, the Nobel Foundation politely rejected the proposal. Jakob, subsequently, decided to establish the Right Livelihood Awards. The first awards were given away in 1980 and since then, they are known to be one of the most prestigious awards in sustainability, peace, and social justice.
Over the years, many eminent personalities and organizations from across the world have received the honour. They include Kenyan political activist and Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, American whistleblower Edward Snowden, and German-Israeli human rights activist Felicia Langer.
Many congratulations to these activists from Team Newsum!0