Greta Thunberg (Sweden)

Greta Thunberg announced 2019 Right Livelihood Award Laureate

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Greta Thunberg announced 2019 Right Livelihood Award Laureate

The Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Climate activist Greta Thunberg from Sweden is one of the 2019 Laureates, the Right Livelihood Foundation announced today in Stockholm, Sweden.

Greta Thunberg is recognised by the international jury “for inspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts”.

Upon receiving the news, Greta Thunberg commented:

“I’m deeply grateful for being one of the recipients of this great honour. But of course, whenever I receive an award, it is not me who is the winner. I am part of a global movement of school children, youth and adults of all ages who have decided to act indefence of our living planet. I share this award with them. The Right Livelihood Award is a huge recognition for Fridays For Future and the climate strike movement. Thank you so very much!”

The 2019 Right Livelihood Award Laureates were announced during a press conference at the International Press Centre at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The jury honours four Laureates who will each receive 1 million SEK (94,000 EUR). The prize money is designated to support to support the Laureates’ work, it is not for personal use.

The other 2019 Laureates are human rights defender Aminatou Haidar (Western Sahara), lawyer Guo Jianmei (China), and indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa who jointly receives the award with the Hutukara Yanomami Association (Brazil). The international jury considered 142 nominations from 59 countries, after an open nomination process.

Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation, commented:“With the Award to Greta Thunberg, we honour one of the most effective civil society leaders of our time and celebrate the power of every human being to make a difference.”

Greta Thunberg is the powerful voice of a young generation that will have to bear the consequences of today’s political failure to stop climate change. Her resolve to not put up with the looming climate disaster has inspired millions of peers to also raise their voices and demand immediate climate action.

In August 2018, with the Swedish Parliamentary election only weeks away, 15-year old Greta Thunberg saw with despair how politicians lacked strategies to combat climate change – if they even cared at all about the issue. Knowing that the life of present and future generations depend on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, Thunberg took matters in her own hands. She went on “school strike for climate” outside the Swedish Parliament.

The initiative was picked up widely both online and in the media, and young activists joined Thunberg outside the Parliament building. Others organised school strikes elsewhere. The movement #FridaysForFuture was born and millions of people – young and old – have taken to the streets since.

Driven by her scientific understanding of the climate crisis and the insufficient response of politics and society to the problem, it became Thunberg’s mission to promote action against climate change. She personifies the notion that everyone has the power to create change. Her example has inspired and empowered people from all walks of life to demand political action.

Thunberg continues to tirelessly convey her message: acknowledge the facts, realisethe urgency of the climate crisis and act accordingly. She speaks at high-level conferences, meets world leaders, and gives guidance to a growing global movement. Many people before Thunberg have tried to convey the urgency of immediate climate action. No one has been more successful. Her uncompromising way to speak truth to power resonates with the public. Greta Thunberg has managed to get the climate crisis not only on the cover page of newspapers but also on top of people’s minds.

The Laureates will receive their prizes at the 2019 Right Livelihood Award Celebration in Stockholm on 4 December. As the Award celebrates 40 years, the public is for the first time ever invited to participate in its presentation. Edward Snowden, who received the Right Livelihood Award in 2014, will join the celebration via link from Moscow and the artists José González and Ane Brun will perform at the event. Tickets for the Award Celebration are available via Cirkus.se

Biography

Press releases

Notes to Editors:

  • About the Right Livelihood Award
  • How it all began – The Nobel Foundation rejected an environmental prize

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Further details on the Laureates, alongside high-resolution photographs and videos, are available at: rightlivelihood.org/2019-announcement

About the Right Livelihood Award

Established in 1980, the Right Livelihood Award honours and supports courageous people solving global problems. To date, there are 178 Laureates from 70 countries.

The Swedish Right Livelihood Foundation presenting the Award sees its role as being the megaphone and shield for the Laureates and provides them with long-term support. It seeks to help protect those Award recipients whose life and liberty are in danger. The Foundation has Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

Anyone can propose candidates to be considered for the Right Livelihood Award. The Laureates are selected by an international Jury after careful investigation by the Foundation’s research team. Unlike most other international prizes, the Right Livelihood Award has no categories. It recognises that, in striving to meet the challenges of today’s world, the most inspiring and remarkable work often defies any standard classification.

How it all began – The Nobel Foundation rejected an environmental prize

In 1979, the Swedish-German philanthropist and stamp collector Jakob von Uexkull turned to the Nobel Foundation with the proposal to create two new Nobel Prizes, one environmental award and one award to promote knowledge and perspectives of people in poor countries. To fund the prizes, he offered to sell his stamp collection, worth more than one million US Dollars, and donate the money to the Nobel Foundation.

Jakob was alarmed by the disconnect between the urgency of global problems and the way the international community was dealing with them. He saw how decision-makers were meeting behind closed doors, out of touch with reality. Activists and civil societyorganisations were at the same time gathering outside the meeting rooms, often presenting constructive solutions to the problems. But their proposals were not taken seriously, and Jakob wanted to do something about it.

“Whoever gets the Nobel Prize will be listened to”, he thought and contacted the Nobel Foundation, which politely rejected the proposal to establish two new awards. There and then, Jakob decided to create the Right Livelihood Award to support people fighting for a just, peaceful and sustainable world. He went ahead and sold parts of the stamp collection, and that was how it all began. The Right Livelihood Award received a lot of attention when it was presented for the first time in 1980, one day before the Nobel Prize. Today, it is one of the most prestigious awards in sustainability, social justice and peace.

Income from the sale of stamps generated sufficient means to kick off the prize but ever since the Right Livelihood Award has been receiving its funding from private donors. A unique feature is that the Award comes with long-term support that includes networking and protection for Laureates under threat. Because of its founding history, it has come to be known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’.

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