Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The Right Livelihood Foundation awarded four campaigners for women's rights, climate action, non-violence, and the protection of the Amazon rainforest with the 2019 Right Livelihood awards on Wednesday. (Image: Rights Livelihood Foundation/Twitter)

Greta Thunberg and Indigenous Amazon Defender Among Visionary Campaigners Honored With Right Livelihood Awards

The Right Livelihood Foundation celebrated four "practical visionaries whose leadership has empowered millions of people to defend their inalienable rights and to strive for a livable future for all on planet Earth."

Julia Conley

Four campaigners from across the globe were awarded the 2019 Right Livelihood Award on Wednesday for their tireless efforts in fighting for non-violence, women's rights, climate action, and environmental protection.

Aminatou Haidar of Western Sahara, Guo Jianmei of China, Greta Thunberg of Sweden, and Davi Kopenawa and the Hutukara Yanomami Association of Brazil were announced as the winners of what is often called the "alternative Nobel Peace Prize" at a press conference given by the Right Livelihood Foundation in Stockholm.

The four award winners were honored for their work as "practical visionaries whose leadership has empowered millions of people to defend their inalienable rights and to strive for a liveable future for all on planet Earth."

The foundation highlighted the campaigners' work in a video posted to YouTube:

The four were each awarded 1 million Swedish krona ($102,000).

Haidar was honored for leading the non-violent resistance to Morocco's decades-long occupation of Western Sahara.

For her efforts on behalf of the Sahrawi people, the foundation said, "she was arrested and tortured. But she will not be silenced."

"This is a recognition of my non-violent struggle and the just cause of the Sahrawi people," Haidar said in response to the award. "Despite military occupation and violations of fundamental human rights, they continue their peaceful struggle. The Sahrawis deserve to be supported by all so that, one day, they will achieve independence and freedom."

Chinese lawyer and women's rights defender Guo Jianmei was honored with the Right Livelihood Award for "her pioneering and persistent work in securing women's rights in China."

Guo defends disadvantaged women in cases involving domestic violence, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment and has offered free legal counseling to more than 120,00 women over the past two decades.

"This award recognizes and acknowledges the efforts of my team and me to uphold women's rights and promote democracy and the rule of law in China, under difficult circumstances for the past 25 years," Guo said. "Currently, pro bono legal work in China is facing enormous challenges. To stand firm, we will need more passion, courage, perseverance, and commitment. This award serves as an encouragement and motivation."

The foundation awarded indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa of the Yanomami tribe of Brazil for his "courageous determination to protect the forests and biodiversity of the Amazon, and the lands and culture of its indigenous peoples." His foundation, the Hutukara Yanomami Association, was also honored.

Kopenawa and the association "protect Yanomami lands in the Amazon from exploitation, which threaten both biodiversity and the very existence of indigenous tribes."

As Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has urged loggers and ranchers to destroy nearly five million acres of the Amazon Rainforest in recent months, the Right Livelihood Award "comes just at the right time," Kopenawa said. 

"The award gives me the strength to continue the fight to defend the soul of the Amazon forest," he added. "We, the peoples of the planet, need to preserve our cultural heritage as Omame [the Creator] taught—to live well caring for our land so that future generations continue to use it."

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate action leader whose one-person climate strike evolved into weekly demonstrations drawing thousands all over the world and eventually the Global Climate Strike which drew four million people last week, was also honored in Stockholm.

Thunberg spoke at the U.N. Climate Action Summit on Monday, condemning world leaders whose inaction has forced her and thousands of other young people to walk out of their classrooms and demand an end to climate-warming fossil fuel extraction.

Thunberg said she was "deeply grateful" for the honor and pointed to climate campaigners from all over the world who participated in the Global Climate Strike, saying the award belonged to all in the climate action movement.

"Whenever I receive an award, it is not me who is the winner," said Thunberg. "I am part of a global movement of school children, youth and adults of all ages who have decided to act in defense 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."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Rights Groups Demand Hearings on the 'Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act'

"The longer Congress waits," warned one advocate, "the stronger and more dangerous this industry will become."

Kenny Stancil ·

Democrats Urge Biden to Abandon Dangerous Trump Policies on Nuclear Weapons

With the Nuclear Posture Review, say congressional lawmakers, the president can ensure "future generations can finally be free from the nuclear sword of Damocles that hangs over all our heads."

Andrea Germanos ·

'There Is No Military Solution': Jayapal, Lee Demand Diplomacy on Ukraine

"We call upon our colleagues to allow the administration to find a diplomatic way out of this crisis," said the progressive Democrats.

Jake Johnson ·

Gun-Maker Slammed for 'Children's Assault Rifles' Based on AR-15

"At first glance, this comes across as a grotesque joke," said one gun control advocate. "On second look, it's just grotesque."

Jessica Corbett ·

Biden Urged to Nominate Black Woman to Supreme Court as Breyer Says He'll Retire

"President Biden has an opportunity to secure a seat on the bench for a justice committed to protecting our democracy and the constitutional rights of all Americans, including the freedom to vote."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo