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About the Right Livelihood Award
In 1979, the Swedish-German philanthropist and stamp collector Jakob von Uexkull turned to the Nobel Foundation with the proposal to create two new Nobel Prizes, one environmental award and one award to promote knowledge and perspectives of people in poor countries.
To fund the prizes, he offered to sell his stamp collection, worth more than one million US Dollars, and donate the money to the Nobel Foundation.
Jakob was alarmed by the disconnect between the urgency of global problems and the way the international community was dealing with them. He saw how decision-makers were meeting behind closed doors, out of touch with reality.
Activists and civil society organisations were at the same time gathering outside the meeting rooms, often presenting constructive solutions to the problems. But their proposals were not taken seriously, and Jakob wanted to do something about it.
“Whoever gets the Nobel Prize will be listened to”, he thought and contacted the Nobel Foundation, which politely rejected the proposal to establish two new awards. There and then, Jakob decided to create the Right Livelihood Award to support people fighting for a just, peaceful and sustainable world.
He went ahead and sold parts of the stamp collection, and that was how it all began. The Right Livelihood Award received a lot of attention when it was presented for the first time in 1980, one day before the Nobel Prize. Today, it is one of the most prestigious awards in sustainability, social justice and peace.
Income from the sale of stamps generated sufficient means to kick off the prize but ever since the Right Livelihood Award has been receiving its funding from private donors. A unique feature is that the Award comes with long-term support that includes networking and protection for Laureates under threat. Because of its founding history, it has come to be known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’.
Proposals should be submitted both electronically and as a paper copy via regular mail to the office in Geneva. Please send only one hard copy, preferably printed double-sided. As the working language of the Foundation and the jury is English, proposals should therefore preferably be written in English.
However, they are able to accept proposals in Spanish or French if it is not possible to do so in English. Although if the total number of documents does not exceed 25 pages, please consider only submitting the nomination electronically in order to reduce the environmental footprint.
- Normally, the Foundation makes three cash awards and one Honorary Award each year. The cash awards are intended for work in progress or the extension of existing activities; they are never given for personal use.
- Proposals are accepted from all around the world;
- Anyone – except Right Livelihood Award jury and staff members – can nominate anyone (individuals or organisations), except themselves, close relatives or their own organisations to be considered for a Right Livelihood Award.
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