Davi Kopenawa / Hutukara Yanomami Association (Brazil)

Indigenous leader in the Amazon announced 2019 Right Livelihood Award Laureate

The Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Davi Kopenawa of the Yanomami people, one of Brazil’s most respected indigenous leaders, is one of the 2019 Laureates, the Right Livelihood Foundation announced today in Stockholm, Sweden. He receives the Award jointly with Hutukara Yanomami Association, which is advancing indigenous rights and conserving the rainforest.

Davi Kopenawa and the Hutukara Yanomami Association (Brazil) jointly receive the Right Livelihood Award. They are recognised by the international jury “for their courageous determination to protect the forests and biodiversity of the Amazon, and the lands and culture of its indigenous peoples”.

The 2019 Right Livelihood Award Laureates were announced during a press conference at the International Press Centre at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The jury has selected four Laureates who will each receive 1 million SEK (94,000 EUR). The prize money is designated to support the Laureates’ work, it is not for personal use.

The other Laureates are human rights defender Aminatou Haidar (Western Sahara), lawyer Guo Jianmei (China), and climate activist Greta Thunberg (Sweden). The jury considered 142 nominations from 59 countries, after an open nomination process.

Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation, commented:“Davi Kopenawa is, together with Hutukara Yanomami Association, successfully resisting the ruthless exploitation of indigenous lands in the Amazon, protecting our common planetary heritage.”

Davi Kopenawa has dedicated his life to protecting Yanomami rights, their culture and lands in the Amazon. Their territory is among the planet’s most important reservoirs of genetic diversity but high political pressure to exploit the Amazon’s natural resources is instigating invasions of indigenous lands. The violence, devastation and disease that follow are posing a severe threat to both biodiversity and the very existence of indigenous tribes.

The Yanomami people are one of the most populous indigenous tribes in Brazil with about 35,000 members. The combined area inhabited by the Yanomami in Brazil and Venezuela makes it the largest indigenous territory inhabited by one tribe in a tropical rainforest in the world – larger than Greece.

Twenty per cent of the Yanomami died in only seven years during the 1980s and 1990s, after gold miners destroyed villages, shot people and exposed the population to diseases to which they have no immunity. Today, these threats are increasing again.Kopenawa plays a fundamental role in uniting indigenous communities to resist the miners, ranchers and other powerful interests, destroying Yanomami lands and livelihoods for financial gain. He was instrumental in securing the 1992 demarcation of Yanomami lands in Brazil at over 96,000 square kilometres. Kopenawa’s long-running activism has gained him many powerful enemies, and he continuously faces death threats.

Davi Kopenawa is co-founder and President of the Hutukara Yanomami Association. Created in 2004, the organisation unites and represents disparate Yanomami communities in Brazil, advancing indigenous rights in the country. Hutukara is also conserving the rainforest. In light of the rapid decline in biodiversity across the world and the worsening effects of climate change, Yanomami knowledge on how to preserve and sustainably inhabit their lands, for the benefit of all, is significant.

Davi Kopenawa and Hutukara Yanomami Association will receive their prize at the 2019 Right Livelihood Award Celebration in Stockholm on 4 December. As the Award celebrates 40 years, the public is for the first time ever invited to participate in its presentation. Edward Snowden, who received the Right Livelihood Award in 2014, will join the celebration via link from Moscow and the artists José González and AneBrun will perform at the event. Tickets for the Award Celebration are available via Cirkus.se.


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