Right Livelihood Award

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 €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]

Right Livelihood Award
RS10368 SST2852.jpg
Awarded for"Practical and exemplary solutions to the most urgent challenges facing the world today"
Presented byRight Livelihood
First awarded1980
Right Livelihood Logotype

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 awardEdit

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.


Jakob von Uexküll, a philanthropist, sold his stamp collection worth US$1 million, 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 US$195,000.[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 to 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 / 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
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 alsoEdit


  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 linksEdit