2017 Right Livelihood Awards Honour Inspiring Changemakers and Champions of Justice
The Right Livelihood Award - Press release - 26 September 2017 - The Laureates of this year’s Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, have been announced today in Stockholm, Sweden.
This year’s honorary award goes to Robert Bilott (USA) “for exposing a decades-long history of chemical pollution, winning long-sought justice for the victims, and setting a precedent for effective regulation on hazardous substances.” Bilott commented: “I hope that this honour helps spread awareness and recognition of the urgent need to take further steps to protect our drinking water, and the ability and power of local residents and communities to ensure that such steps are taken.”
The cash award of SEK 3 million is shared equally by three Laureates: Colin Gonsalves (India) is honoured by the Jury “for his tireless and innovative use of public interest litigation over three decades to secure fundamental human rights for India’s most marginalised and vulnerable citizens.” Gonsalves commented: “I am both humbled and privileged by the Award. It comes at a time when India is going through a dark period and human rights activists are under siege. The platform the Foundation provides will help us strengthen democratic resistance at this critical stage.”
Khadija Ismayilova (Azerbaijan) receives the Award “for her courage and tenacity in exposing corruption at the highest levels of government through outstanding investigative journalism in the name of transparency and accountability”. It is the first time that a Right Livelihood Award goes to a Laureate from Azerbaijan. Ismayilova commented: “It is an honour for me to be chosen for such a prestigious award. I happily accept the award on behalf of all journalists and human rights defenders of my country, who continue to work despite difficult conditions.”
Yetnebersh Nigussie (Ethiopia) is recognised by the Jury “for her inspiring work promoting the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities, allowing them to realise their full potential and changing mindsets in our societies”. Nigussie commented: “It is an absolute honour to receive the prestigious Right Livelihood Award. The recognition provides welcome fuel to the disability and development community’s ongoing call for inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities in all spheres of life.”
The announcement was made at the International Press Centre at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs by Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, and Maina Kiai, Jury member and former UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, following the decision by an international Jury that considered 102 nominations from 51 countries.
Ole von Uexkull commented: “This year’s Laureates protect the rights and lives of citizens across three continents. With their courageous work for human rights, public health and good governance, they tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges at their very core. At a time of alarming setbacks for democracy, their successes show us the way forward towards a just, peaceful and sustainable world for all.”
Established in 1980, the Right Livelihood Award honours and supports courageous people and organisations offering visionary and exemplary solutions to the root causes of global problems. Today, there are 170 Laureates from 69 countries.