Right Livelihood Award

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Presentation of the Right Livelihood Award 2009: award winner Alyn Ware (middle) together with Margot Wallström and founder Jakob von Uexküll

The Right Livelihood Award ( RLA , English , about "award for just, fair livelihoods") is an award "for creating a better world". It has been awarded annually since 1980 by the Right Livelihood Award Foundation and is funded by donations.

The term "Alternative Nobel Prize" was used by the public in the early years of the prize, but it is not an official designation of the prize and is only used by the awarding institution in quotation marks. There is no institutional connection between the prize and the Nobel Prize ; in the English-speaking world, this expression is used less frequently than in the German language.


Proposal to the Nobel Foundation

Jakob von Uexküll , founder of the Right Livelihood Award

Jakob von Uexküll traveled the world in the 1970s and saw poverty and environmental destruction. In 1980, the then 35-year-old philatelist and journalist suggested that the Nobel Foundation donate further Nobel Prizes. For von Uexküll, the categories of the Nobel Prizes were too narrow, and for him they represent the "highest honors within the existing world order", which is why he called for the creation of a new prize "specifically aimed at the needs of the majority of humanity in the third world". and the whole earth proposed. According to the Right Livelihood Foundation, he proposed the creation of two Nobel Prizes, one for ecology and one for overcoming poverty . He also wanted to contribute financially to these prizes.

The proposal was rejected by the Nobel Foundation. The reason given was, among other things, that the Nobel Foundation should not add any further prizes to the original Nobel Prizes after the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Sciences was established by the Swedish Reichsbank and the criticism that followed. However, the statutes of the Nobel Prize do not simply allow the establishment of a new prize, since the assets donated by Alfred Nobel may only be used for the original Nobel Prize. The Business Prize was set up via an appendix to the statutes, with funds provided by the Swedish Riksbank. Von Uexküll's prize would also have required such external financing. However, he only promised a financial contribution.

Foundation of the Right Livelihood Award

In 1980, von Uexküll himself founded a corresponding award, the Right Livelihood Award. To finance it, he sold valuable stamps and made a million US dollars , according to other sources only half a million US dollars. Von Uexküll gave up his former residence in Saint Vincent and founded the "Right Livelihood Foundation" on the Isle of Man , which had an address in London in 1983 and later moved its headquarters to Sweden .

The name "Alternative Nobel Prize"

Despite the widespread term "Alternative Nobel Prize", there is no institutional connection to the Nobel Prize. The Nobel Foundation and the institutions that award the Nobel Prizes are not involved, nor is the Swedish royal family involved in awarding the RLA. Otherwise, the prize enjoys little public attention in Sweden. The prize money is considerably lower than the Nobel Prize. It also comes from donations, while the Nobel Prize is funded from the interest earned by the Nobel Foundation. Furthermore, in contrast to the Nobel Prizes, the nomination is open to everyone.

The origins of the alternative designation are unclear. As early as 1982 it was found in a number of publications. In earlier years, the name was attributed to the European media. Jakob von Uexkull has been using it himself since 1985 at the latest.

The term "Alternative Nobel Prize" is only used by the foundation in quotation marks. This is also how it is handled in many international media. In German-language media, the use of quotation marks is often avoided.


The Right Livelihood Award is given to people , organizations and representatives of social movements who work with practical solutions and models for a decent subsistence ( livelihood , livelihood, livelihood) for all.

The prize knows no strict categories. Most award winners were recognized for services to the environment, peace, disarmament, human rights , development, culture and spirituality, indigenous peoples , consumer protection, education, health, energy and resource conservation.

List of award winners


Nomination of the award winners

Anyone other than judges and Right Livelihood Foundation staff may nominate an award winner. The submission deadline is March 1 of each year. Proposals must be submitted in writing. Information about the work of the nominees should have been submitted by June 1st. In the absence of such information, the proposals are unlikely to be considered.

Contact between nominee and nominator is permitted. It is desirable that the awardee's work has matured sufficiently to justify the award. Furthermore, the award winners are expected to be willing to pass on their knowledge and experience.

Awarding Committee

The winners are determined in September of each year by an international jury. This is made up of members of the board of the foundation and other personalities who are invited by the foundation.

The Board of Directors 2020: Ole von Uexküll (Director), Paul Ekins (Chairman), Monika Griefahn (Member since 1986), Juliane Kronen, Amelia von Zweigbergk, Gunilla Hallonsten, Paul Walker (political scientist) (RLA 2013)

Other jury members 2020: Juan Pablo Orrego (RLA 1998), Sima Samar (RLA 2012), Nnimmo Bassey (RLA 2010), Jamila Raqib, Anne Rüffer , Glorene Das

Former Jury Members: Tani Adams, Frank Bracho, Rodrigo Carazo Odio , James George , Jakob von Uexküll , Diana Cohn, Thor Heyerdahl , Sven Hamrell, Birgitta Hambraeus, Richard Jolly , Luis Lopezllera , Doris Kareva , Rama Mani , Rami Mani, Josh Mailman, Anuradha Mittal , Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah , Thandika Mkandawire , Robert Muller , Vithal Rajan, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg (2010), Kristina Svensson, Albert Tevoedjre, Michaela Walsh , Ponna Wignaraja, Marianne Andersson, Thais Corral

Number of award winners

As a rule, three award winners share the endowed sum of money. Since 1982, an undoped honorary award has usually been awarded. However, this scheme is often deviated from. This means that parts of the prize can also be awarded to two people or organizations together. Of the 39 awards so far (as of 2018), only 12 took place according to the regular scheme. In the case of two other awards, an honorary prize and three cash prizes were awarded, but one or more prizes were shared by several people or organizations.

prize money

The prize money is financed by donations, which have grown over time. Therefore, the amount of money distributed, which is shared between the awardees (with the exception of a possible honorary award), is not constant.

year prize money (total) Historical equivalent in Swedish kronor Historical equivalent in euros
1980 $50,000 225,000 37,000
1981 $50,000 275,000 46,600
1982 $50,000 375,000 53,000
1983 30,000 British pounds 345,000 52,700
1984 350,000 Swedish crowns 350,000 55,500
1985 $75,000 575,000 101,600
2008 2,000,000 Swedish crowns 2,000,000 208,200
2009 150,000 euros 1,550,000 150,000
2010 200,000 euros 1,800,000 200,000
2011 150,000 euros 1,375,000 150,000
2012 150,000 euros 1,275,000 150,000
2013 2,000,000 Swedish crowns 2,000,000 231,200
2014 1,500,000 Swedish crowns 1,500,000 164,900
2015 3,000,000 Swedish crowns 3,000,000 320,600
2016 3,000,000 Swedish crowns 3,000,000 316,800
2017 3,000,000 Swedish crowns 3,000,000 311,400
2018 3,000,000 Swedish crowns 3,000,000 292,492
2019 4,000,000 Swedish crowns 4,000,000

award ceremony

In line with the practice of the Nobel Prize, the winners of the Right Livelihood Award are announced at the end of September/beginning of October in the press center of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs - the actual award ceremony then takes place at the end of November or beginning of December. For a long time, this was carried out in the Reichstag building in Stockholm . However, in 2014 the press conference was canceled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so the foundation decided to announce the award winners via its website and press releases a day before the scheduled date. In 2015, the award ceremony returned to the Reichstag. Since then, the award ceremonies have taken place in the Vasa Museum .


In June 2005, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Right Livelihood Award , a conference on the subject of Winning Alternatives took place in Salzburg , which was attended by more than 70 award winners. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the award, 75 award winners met in Bonn in September 2010 for a conference under the motto "Continue as usual? – CHANGING COURSE into the future; 30 years of the 'Alternative Nobel Prize'”.

Environmental activist Wangari Muta Maathai and doctor and human rights activist Denis Mukwege are the only people so far to have received both the Right Livelihood Award and the Nobel Peace Prize . Kenyan Maathai was honored with the 1984 Right Livelihood Award and received the Nobel Prize in 2004; the Congolese Mukwege, winner of the year 2013, received the Nobel Peace Prize five years later.


  • To Make the Earth a Decent Place for All Its People Right Livelihood laureates call for radical reforms ; conference report “20 Years Right Livelihood Award”, Salzburg 1999 [29. May 1999 to June 2, 1999, Salzburg, Bildungshaus St. Virgil], Tauriska , Neukirchen am Grossvenediger 2000, ISBN 3-901257-15-2 (German and English).
  • Klaus Huhn: Winnetou's Daughters [why Mary and Carrie Dann were awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize], Spotless, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-928999-30-3 .
  • Geseko von Lüpke : The alternative . Ways and worldview of the Alternative Nobel Prize. Pragmatists, Boy Scouts, Visionaries. In: One Earth Spirit. Riemann, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-570-50031-4 .
  • Geseko von Lüpke, Peter Erlenwein (ed.): Projects of Hope . The Alternative Nobel Prize: Perspectives on a Different Globalization. Society for Ecological Communication Oekom, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-86581-006-3 .
  • Hans Dieter Nerbl and students of the 5th year of the higher department for mechatronics at the HTL Saalfelden in the school year 2006/2007 (ed.): Courage to change . Young Technicians and the Right Livelihood Award; a class project of the 5th year of the higher department for mechatronics at the HTL Saalfelden. Tauriska , Neukirchen am Grossvenediger 2007, ISBN 978-3-901257-29-2 .
  • Jürgen Streich, Ricardo Díez-Hochleitner (Foreword): Role models. People and projects that give hope. The Alternative Nobel Prize. Kampenhausen, Bielefeld 2005, ISBN 3-89901-057-4 .
  • Jakob von Uexküll (ed.): The alternative Nobel Prize [Translated from English by Erika Ifang]. In: Metapolitik Dianus-Trikont, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-88167-142-0 .
  • Jakob von Uexküll, Bernd Dost (eds.): Projects of Hope The Alternative Nobel Prize [Translated from English by Martina Tichy and Gabriele Zelisko]. Raben, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-922696-58-9 .

web links

Commons : Right Livelihood Award  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Bayerischer Rundfunk: "Right Livelihood Award" was presented ( Memento of December 9, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  2. a b c d e How it all began – The Nobel Foundation rejected an environmental prize. The Right Livelihood Foundation, accessed September 25, 2019 .
  3. a b c Jakob von Uexküll (ed.): The alternative Nobel Prize. Dianus-Trikont Buchverlag, 1985, ISBN 3-88167-142-0 .
  4. a b Peter Bruges : Putting the Brakers in the Right Light . In: The Mirror . No. 50 , 1985, p. 226, 229, 230 ( online ).
  5. a b Mother Jones Magazine Dec 1983
  6. Resurgence, Vol. 13, Issue 91 - Vol. 14, Issue 107, 1982
  7. New scientist, Vol. 121
  8. Guidelines for Proposals for the Right Livelihood Award. (PDF; 267.9 kB) The Right Livelihood Foundation, accessed September 25, 2019 .
  9. Donate. The Right Livelihood Foundation, accessed September 25, 2019 .
  10. Calculated using data from currate.com
  11. Calculated using data from fxtop.com and the Swedish Riksbank (annual averages)
  12. Peace news for nonviolent revolution, issues 2136-2160, Peace News, Ltd., 1981
  13. IFDA dossier, Issues 33-38, The Foundation., 1983
  14. Development: seeds of change, village through global order, Vol. 3, Society for International Development, 1982
  15. Peace news for nonviolent revolution, issues 2211-2235, Peace News, Ltd., 1984
  16. IFDA dossier, Issues 45-50, The Foundation., 1985
  17. Ms. magazine, Vol. 14, Issues 1-6, Ms. Foundation for Education and Communication, 1985
  18. Newsletter December 2008 ( Memento of June 20, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  19. PRESS RELEASE 13 OCTOBER 2009 ( Memento of June 20, 2010 at the Internet Archive )
  20. About the Right Livelihood Award ( Memento of July 27, 2011 at the Internet Archive )
  21. PRESS RELEASE September 29, 2011 ( Memento of November 4, 2011 at the Internet Archive ) (PDF)
  22. 2012 Right Livelihood Awards go to UK, US, Afghanistan and Turkey ( Memento of November 13, 2012 at the Internet Archive )
  23. Press release on the 2013 award (PDF; 630 kB)
  24. a b Press release, Stockholm 24 September 2014. (PDF) 24 September 2014, accessed 24 September 2014 .
  25. Press release, Stockholm 1 October 2015. (PDF) 1 October 2015, accessed 2 October 2015 .
  26. Press Release, Stockholm 25 October 2016. (PDF) Retrieved 25 November 2016 .
  27. Announcement. Retrieved October 27, 2017 .
  28. RLA 2018 Press Release. Retrieved September 24, 2018 .
  29. RLA 2019 press release . Retrieved September 25, 2019 .
  30. The Award Ceremony in the Swedish Parliament ( memento of 1 August 2013 at the Internet Archive )
  31. Home. 28 June 2010, retrieved 2 December 2021 .