Right Livelihood Awards 2012

Sweden’s ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ has recognised the tremendous efforts of activists around the world working towards global harmony

Activists and organisations that have contributed practical solutions to global issues were recognised at the 2012 Right Livelihood Awards ceremony on 7 December in Stockholm, Sweden.

Now in their 32nd year, the awards, often referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize, saw 122 proposals from 52 countries for the work of organisations tackling an array of world problems, including arms trafficking and environmental destruction. In total there have now been 149 Right Livelihood Award laureates from 62 countries.

According to the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, which organises the event, the awards were introduced “to honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.” Presented annually at the Swedish Parliament, there are four awards in total: one honorary award, with the three other laureates sharing a €150,000 cash prize.

UK organisation Campaign Against Arms Trade was given an award for the innovation and effectiveness of its campaigns. This included exposing the British government’s involvement in supplying arms to authoritarian regimes in Libya and Bahrain.

This year saw Afghanistan receive an award for the first time, where activist Sima Samar was recognised for, in the words of the judges: “Her longstanding and courageous dedication to human rights, especially the rights of women, in one of the most complex and dangerous regions in the world.” Meanwhile, Gene Sharp from the United States was awarded for developing principles and strategies of nonviolent resistance in conflict areas around the world.

The 2012 Honorary Award went to environmentalist Hayrettin Karaca for a lifetime of tireless support for the protection of the natural world. Known commonly as the grandfather of Turkish environmentalism, Karaca worked successfully to combine entrepreneurship with environmental activism, after founding a 14,000 species arboretum in 1980 and the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion in 1992.

Ole von Uexkull, executive director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, said: “This year’s group of four laureates highlights the essential conditions for global peace and security: effective nonviolent resistance, a recognition that the arms industry is part of the problem, human and women’s rights, and the preservation of our precious ecological resources.”