Regional Conference for Africa and the Middle East 

The second regional conference took place in partnership with Egyptian Laureate SEKEM inCairo, Egypt, from 6-9 June 2014. It brought Laureates from Africa and the Middle East to share their experiences in various areas of work: from human rights to environmental protection, women’s health, ecologically and socially sound agriculture, as well as justice and community healing after violent conflict. The highlight of the conference was the open programme on June 8: Local civil society groups and the media had been invited to Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development in Cairo.

During internal sessions on the first two days, the Laureates described common struggles in their work and identified areas of potential cooperation within the network of Right Livelihood Award Laureates.

The last day of the conference was used for making concrete follow-up plans and signing ofpetitions.

Read the press releases about the conference in English and Arabic.

Three of the participants could not attend because of political reasons.

Laureate SEKEM (2003, Egypt); represented by Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, Founder, and Helmy Abouleish, Managing Director of the SEKEM Group in Egypt; Oganic agriculture, health care as well as educational and cultural preservation initiatives

Laureate Nnimmo Bassey (2010, Nigeria); Human rights and environmental activist

Matron Sr. Tenadam Bekele Wolde, representative of Laureate Dr. Catherine Hamlin (HYPERLINK)’s Fistula Hospital (2009. Ethiopia); Women’s health focusing on preventing obstetic fistula

Laureate First People of the Kalahari (2005, Botswana): represented by Jumanda Gakelebone; Activist for the rights of his people

Laureate Centre Jeunes Kamenge (2002, Burundi): represented by Guillaume Harushimana, Burundi; Youth empowerment and education

Laureate Dr. Hans R. Herren, Biovision (2003, Switzerland); Expert on biological pest control and sustainable agriculture)

Laureate The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) (1994, Nigeria): represented by Legborsi Saro Pyagbara; Indigenous peoples and environment

Laureate Jacqueline Moudeina (2011, Chad); Lawyer and human rights activist, fighting impunity)

Laureate René Ngongo (2009, Democratic Republic of Congo); Environmental activist, conservation of the rainforest

Nomewende Joël Ouedraogo, Burkina Faso, Executive Director of Fédération Naam (Son of Laureate Bernard Lédéa Ouédraogo (1990, Burkina Faso); Peasants’ empowerment and rural development)

Laureate Raji Sourani (2013, Palestine); Human rights lawyer based in the Gaza Strip) – could not attend, because the border to Gaza was closed

Laureate Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (2010, Israel): represented by Dr. Ruchama Marton; Health care and human rights in Israel and Palestine – could not attend, because no visas were issued for Israeli participants

Laureate Gush Shalom (2001, Israel): represented by Adam Keller; Organisation promoting peace in Israel – could not attend for the same reasons as Dr. Ruchama Marton

Representatives of the board of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation: Dr. Monika Griefahn (Co-Chair), Dr. Juliane Kronen (Trustee), Agneta Johansson  (Trustee)

Representatives of the staff of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation and SEKEM

Representative of the Church of Sweden (Funding organisation): Dr. Gunilla Hallonsten (Policy Director of the International Department)


Declarations and Statements

“Business as usual is not an option” – African Laureates demand a paradigm shift in agriculture and management of natural ressources

In a joint statement, all 11 Laureates at the conference addressed the public: “In our diverse struggles toward improving access to health care, ending impunity, and achieving food security and sustainable development, we recognize an overarching crisis afflicting the region. Corporate capture of governance in Africa is becoming increasingly prevalent in the areas of agriculture and the extractive industries, namely mining, oil, and gas.”

They also called upon African governments to “make investments into infrastructure, health and education, especially in rural communities.”

The atmosphere remains hopeful: “Amidst the ongoing devastation caused by this iniquitous system, we would like to celebrate some of the successful alternatives that are flourishing, from Egypt to Burkina Faso.” On the day of the Presidential inauguration in Egypt, they also extended their solidarity to civil society groups in Egypt.

Read the full statement from June 8, 2014 (HYPERLINK).

The following petitions were initiated at the conference and signed by all 11 attending African Laureates.

Laureates urge Congolese government to stop permitting oil exploration in the Virunga Nationalpark

With this statement, the Laureates approve of the recent decision by British oil company, Soco International, to end its exploration work in the Virunga National Park, a World Heritage Site and home to around a quarter of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas.

However, Soco’s withdrawal is not a total victory; it’s withdrawal is ambiguous, and the company has said it will complete its seismic survey in Lake Edward. Exploration licenses cover 80 per cent of the park and other companies may seek to develop resources in the Virunga. Laureates called on the Congolese government to cancel Soco’s permit, to respect national laws and regulations outlawing oil exploration and extraction in protected areas, and to remove armed groups inside the park. They also call on Soco to unambiguously give up its permit to explore within the park boundaries and to honour its commitment to respect all areas designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Read the full statement in French.

“It is time to start implementing the roadmap for Ecological Organic Agriculture in Africa”

The Laureates appeal to the heads of states and governments of the African Union to “develop and implement the roadmap for the needed transition towards Ecological Organic Agriculture as promised by the African Heads of States and Governments in the Decision on Organic Farming”.

Additionally, they request that “national governments implement the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security that was declared in 2000, and redirect ten percent of national budget allocation to Ecological Organic Agriculture”. Read the full statement.

Laureates demand action to end the pollution in Ogoniland (Nigeria)

In this statement, Laureates voice their concerns about the ongoing pollution in Ogoniland and urge the Nigerian President to take action on the Ogoni UNEP report, three years after it was submitted. The 2011 report has shown e.g. that “in at least ten Ogoni communities where drinking water is contaminated with high levels of hydrocarbons, public health is seriously threatened”.

The Laureates ask President Goodluck to take action on the “full implementation of the recommendations of the UNEP report” taking into consideration “effective participation of the Ogoni people in all stages relating to the restoration of their environment”. Read the full statement.