Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Right Livelihood Awardees

The Right Livelihood Award was granted to three activists and one legal group on September 29, 2021. (Photos: Right Livelihood)

Right Livelihood Award Recognizes 'Courageous Mobilizers' Defending People and Planet

"In the face of the escalating climate and environmental crises, senseless violence, and blatant human rights abuses, they successfully engage for a better future through solidarity and organization."

Jessica Corbett

Known around the world as the "alternative Nobel Prize" to honor and support "courageous people solving global problems," the Right Livelihood Award was granted Wednesday to three activists from Cameroon, Canada, and Russia as well as a legal group in India.

Right Livelihood has recognized nearly 200 laureates from more than 70 countries since its founding over four decades ago. This year, the Stockholm-based organization considered a record 206 nominees from 89 nations, executive director Ole von Uexkull said during a press conference.

The 2021 laureates are:

  • Marthe Wandou, "for building a model of community-based child protection in the face of terrorist insurgency and gender-based violence in the Lake Chad region of Cameroon";
  • Vladimir Slivyak, "for his defense of the environment and for helping to ignite grassroots opposition to the coal and nuclear industries in Russia";
  • Freda Huson of the Wet'suwet'en people in Canada, "for her fearless dedication to reclaiming her people's culture and defending their land against disastrous pipeline projects"; and
  • Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), "for their innovative legal work empowering communities to protect their resources in the pursuit of environmental democracy in India."

"The 2021 Right Livelihood Laureates are courageous mobilizers who show what peoples' movements can achieve," von Uexkull said. "In the face of the escalating climate and environmental crises, senseless violence, and blatant human rights abuses, they successfully engage for a better future through solidarity and organization."

"These grassroots activists are not just resisting," von Uexkull added, "but actively mobilizing entire communities to claim their rights, becoming agents of change where governments fail."

In addition to a cash prize of about $115,000 for each recipient, the award secures laureates long-term support to "highlight and expand" their work. According to the organization, "Right Livelihood is a megaphone and a shield for the laureates: raising their profile, providing them protection when their lives and liberty are in danger, and educating people on their innovative solutions."

Past recipients have included American whistleblower Edward Snowden, Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg, Congolese gynecologist Dr. Denis Mukwege, and Belarusian pro-democracy activist Ales Bialiatski, as well as Viasna, the human rights center he established.

Marthe Wandou

Marthe Wandou

The first person from Cameroon to receive the award, Wandou has long worked to prevent sexual violence against children, especially girls, and care for survivors. She founded the organization Action Locale Pour un Développement Participatif et Autogéré (ALDEPA) in 1998.

"The Right Livelihood Award will give us the courage to continue what we are doing," Wandou said. "It will also help us have visibility and call on more people to join us in supporting victims and promoting women's and children's rights."

Vladimir Slivyak

Vladimir Slivyak

Slivyak, co-chairman and co-founder of the group Ecodefense, has advocated against fossil fuels and nuclear power in Russia as well as the shipment of radioactive waste from abroad.

"I've spent my life in the environmental movement, and it's really a big honor for me to get an award like this," said Slivyak. "The Right Livelihood Award provides more resources for the environmental and human rights protection work that my organization is leading."

Freda Huson

Huson has been a leader in the fight against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia, Canada. She joined with fellow Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in 2010 to establish the Unist'ot'en homestead, which they call "a peaceful expression of our connection to our territory." The camp now includes a healing center for people impacted by colonial trauma.

"The work I've been recognized for is teaching people our ways, which we are taught from a very young age: to take care of the land that sustains us," she explained. "What this award means to my people is that it's going to be more powerful to join forces with many others around the world with the same goal: to protect the land, protect the environment, and make sure that people are treated fairly."

Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE)

LIFE founders

Founded in 2005 by lawyers Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary, LIFE provides legal and scientific support to communities across India taking on projects and corporations that threaten the environment and public health.

Dutta said that "we are extremely thrilled" to receive LIFE's first international prize.

"It means a lot to us and to all the local groups across India that we are supporting," he added. "The award will help us increase the impact of our work, empowering more people to protect nature and livelihoods."

Photos of the recipients engaging in work and protest actions were provided by Right Livelihood.


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

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Abortion Rights Groups Sue to Block Post-Roe Trigger Laws in Louisiana

"We will be fighting to restore access in Louisiana and other states for as long as we can," said one reproductive rights campaigner.

Jake Johnson ·


Poll Shows Majority Oppose Supreme Court's Attack on Fundamental Rights

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they're now concerned the court will attack marriage equality and the right to obtain contraception.

Julia Conley ·


Global Windfall Profit Tax of 90% Needed to Address 'Catastrophic' Food, Climate Crises: Oxfam

Taxing the excess profits of large corporations within the G7 alone could raise an estimated $430 billion to fight world hunger, deliver vaccines to the entire world, and make a giant dent in the fight to drive down fossil fuel pollution and jumpstart the necessary renewable energy transition.

Jon Queally ·


NATO to Boost Ranks of High-Readiness Forces by 650% to Over 300,000

Anti-war campaigners responded that "this is not the path to peace and will not make the world safer."

Jake Johnson ·


Ilhan Omar Says Plan to Fix Supreme Court Must Include Impeachment Probes

"We need an impeachment investigation into Clarence Thomas' role in the January 6th coup, as well as into Gorsuch, Alito, Barrett, and Kavanaugh's testimony on Roe during their confirmation hearings," said the Minnesota Democrat.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo