Facing COVID-19 Together

A Dose of Inspiration: How to stay positive and keep activism going from home amidst COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a health crisis. It has profoundly changed our society and our everyday life. As people are staying home to slow the spread, we have put together a collection of resources to help you stay positive and active — even from your own couch.

(We will continuously update this page in response to the development of the pandemic, so do check back from time to time!)

As part of the Right Livelihood Foundation 40th Anniversary, three global conferences were planned for the spring of 2020. Two of them have been postponed due to COVID-19. The Foundation, together with the Right Livelihood College at UC Santa Cruz, has therefore launched a series of online conversations inviting Laureates to share their perspectives on some of the most pressing current issues. >> Learn more

1. Have hope

As COVID-19 sweeps the world, posing an unprecedented challenge since WWII according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, we believe there are still reasons for hope. Looking back on the past 40 years of celebrating 178 changemakers from 70 countries around the world, we have witnessed, in the work of the Right Livelihood Award Laureates, how human courage and creativity can help overcome challenges.

If you need some silver linings to remain hopeful these days, watch this TEDx talk by our Executive Director Ole von Uexkuell about the struggles and success of the Laureates in the face of global crises.

2. Reflect on the current crisis — it’s not all bad news

“If this is the worst of times, it is also the best of times,” wrote Alan Rusbridger (2014 Laureate) as he reflected on COVID-19. As the global pandemic is reshaping every aspect of our lives, what are the longer-term implications for us and for the world, for bad — and for good?

Rediscovering the power of connection — by Alan Rusbridger (2014 Laureate)

In our anxiety we are drawing deep reserves of strength from others. In our isolation we are rediscovering community. In our confusion we are rethinking whom we trust. In our fragmentation we are rediscovering the value of institutions…

What it amounts to is this: there is such a thing as society and we are all interdependent. And if it sometimes takes a grave crisis to remind ourselves of these truths, then this moment may well be historic for the possibilities of hope as well as for all the tragedy and turmoil.” >> Read more

Rebuilding interconnectedness — by Vandana Shiva (1993 Laureate)

The health emergency calls for a systems approach based on interconnectedness. We need to look at systems that spread disease and systems that create health in a holistic way. A systems approach to health care in times of the corona crisis would address not just the virus, but also how new epidemics are spreading as we invade the homes of other beings. >> Read more

An opportunity for transformation — by David Suzuki (2009 Laureate)

In this disaster lies an opportunity to reflect and change direction in the hope that if we do, nature will be far more generous than we deserve…

In this moment of crisis, we should be asking what an economy is for, whether there are limits, how much is enough and whether we are happier with all [the things we buy]. Can we relearn what humanity has known since our very beginnings — that we live in a complex web of relationships in which our very survival and well-being depend upon clean air, water and soil, sunlight and the diversity of species of plants and animals that we share this planet with? >> Read more

Ending globalization for good — by Walden Bello (2003 Laureate)

Deglobalization is, at its core, an ethical perspective. It prioritizes values above interests, cooperation above competition, and community above ‘efficiency’…

The 2008 financial crisis failed to put an end to globalization. Instead, a new phase of globalization, “connectivity,” emerged, with China providing the political leadership and economic clout. COVID-19 has killed connectivity, and globalization, hopefully for good.” >> Read more

A time for change — by Nnimmo Bassey (2010 Laureate)

It is time to organise, even if we are physically isolated. The virus will not change anything that we the people won’t change…

It is time to reflect on how to push for systemic changes and forge new ways of organizing and bridging distances created by geographic separations. The change that will frame the post-pandemic era will come from humans, our relationship with each other and with Nature. >> Read more

3. Get inspiration from changemakers

Challenges are not something new to the Right Livelihood Award Laureates. They have been through it – and some are still going through it. What can we learn from them when it comes to overcoming challenges? Here are 3 great reads to keep you inspired during your stay at home:

The Right to be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet

By Sheila Watt-Cloutier (2015 Laureate)

As the climate changes, habitats are being destroyed, species are going extinct, and cultures are vanishing all over the world. The Arctic has been hit particularly hard, as the ice is disappearing, so is the indigenous knowledge that has helped the Inuits survive. Prominent activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier shares her life-long battle against the climate crisis to protect her homeland.

Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle Against DuPont

By Robert Bilott (2017 Laureate)

Follow the real story behind the Hollywood film Dark Waters, which centres on the 20-year legal battle of environmental lawyer Robert Bilott. From dying cattle in a small community in West Virginia, Bilott was able to trace and eventually expose DuPont’s 40-year long contamination of the community’s drinking water with Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a carcinogenic chemical which was then unknown to the general public.

Permanent Record

By Edward Snowden (2014 Laureate)

Learn about whistleblower Edward Snowden in a run-through of his life that details how he helped build up a system he eventually chose to tear down. At 29 years old, he learned that the US government was secretly mass surveilling its own citizens. He chose to disclose this information to the public, eventually putting himself into a life in exile.

4. Keep your activism going — online

Despite being physically apart, most of us are probably more virtually connected than ever before. Digital platforms during COVID-19 play a critical role in raising awareness and rallying support for those in need. Wonder how you can continue to show care for others and call for justice online? The Right Livelihood Award Laureates have you covered.

Learn how to campaign online

In this toolkit developed by 350.org (2014 Laureate), they have offered a range of online campaigning tools and tactics, resources, and ways to get involved that each and every one of us can make use of to show solidarity and speak up for the issues we care about most. From creating art to hosting virtual protests, there is no lack of means to take action even when we are at home.

Join the #ClimateStrikeOnline

Greta Thunberg (2019 Laureate), who has inspired the #FridaysForFuture movement around the world, invites people to continue the strike for climate on every Friday by taking a photo or video of themselves with a sign, then share on their own social media with the hashtag #ClimateStrikeOnline #FridaysForFuture and a location tag. Here’s how you can join in.

Fridays for Future (Germany) is also hosting weekly webinars with scientists, journalists, activists, and experts to keep the climate conversation going. Follow #TalksforFuture for the latest lineup of speakers, or catch up on previous webinars with Greta Thunberg, Naomi Klein and Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum from World Health Organization, and more!

5. Take care of your health, not only physically but mentally

We believe hope and inspiration can help us get through the weeks and months ahead. But in times of crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, keep in mind that it is completely normal to feel anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Don’t panic. Try to take breaks away from the news, or take time with friends and families. Check out the World Health Organization’s tips to cope with stress during COVID-19.

And don’t forget we are all in this together.

Updates & Other Resources

Webinar series

Join in our webinar series “Conversations that matter with Right Livelihood Award Laureates.” >> Check out the full schedule

How we are continuing our work amidst COVID-19

We are following the guidelines of the World Health Organization and national health authorities closely in our measures concerning COVID-19. >> Read the latest update from the Foundation