Right Livelihood Award Laureates 2018. Photo: Wolfgang Schmidt

2018 Right Livelihood Award Laureates Honoured Today

Press releases 23.11.2018

Right Livelihood Award Laureates 2018. Photo: Wolfgang Schmidt
2018 Right Livelihood Award Laureates have arrived in Stockholm for the Award Presentation (from left to right: Thelma Aldana, Tony Rinaudo, Yacouba Sawadogo, Iván Velásquez; on the picture: the three jailed Laureates from Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Al-Hamid, Waleed Abu Al-Khair and Mohammad Fahad Al-Qahtani). Credit: Right Livelihood Award Foundation/Wolfgang Schmidt

The Laureates of the 2018 Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, will receive their prizes at today’s Award presentation in Stockholm, Sweden. Regrettably, the three Saudi Laureates are prevented from attending due to lengthy prison sentences for their work promoting justice and equality.

Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, said:

“The Laureates’ trailblazing work for accountability, democracy and the regeneration of degraded land gives tremendous hope and deserves the world’s highest attention. At a time of alarming environmental decline and failing political leadership, they show the way forward into a very different future.”

Thelma Aldana (Guatemala) & Iván Velásquez (Colombia) received this year’s Honorary Award “for their innovative work in exposing abuse of power and prosecuting corruption, thus rebuilding people’s trust in public institutions”.

Thelma Aldana commented:

“Guatemala was organised to enrich powerful actors, and that is what we have begun to defeat. Today it is known in Guatemala that, no matter who you are, justice can operate under the rule of law, as a key factor to strengthen the emerging democracy.”

Iván Velásquez said:

“Corruption is a crime against humanity and human dignity. The fight against it is the fight for a dignified life for all people and especially those who are marginalised.”

The three cash awards go to the following Laureates:

Saudi human rights defenders Abdullah al-Hamid, Waleed Abu al-Khair & Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani received the Award “for their visionary and courageous efforts, guided by universal human rights principles, to reform the totalitarian political system in Saudi Arabia.”

The imprisoned Saudi human rights defenders will be represented by family members of al-Qahtani and the Saudi human rights advocate Yahya Assiri. The Right Livelihood Award Foundation and Amnesty International Sweden are calling on Saudi Arabia to not only release the three Laureates, who had acted through peaceful means, but also to stop harassing and killing human rights defenders and activists.

Representing the Laureates, Yahya Assiri said:

”al-Hamid, al-Qahtani and Abu al-Kheer are not only enhancing human rights, but they inspire and encourage many others to follow in their footsteps. If Saudi Arabia is interested in genuine reforms, as the regime is claiming, these courageous reformists should be celebrated as heroes in their home country instead of spending years after years in prison.”

The Burkinese farmer Yacouba Sawadogo, who is known as known as “the man who stopped the desert”, is recognised by the Award jury “for turning barren land into forest and demonstrating how farmers can regenerate their soil with innovative use of indigenous and local knowledge.”

Sawadogo stressed the vital importance of community action, stating:

“Humans are the first ones responsible for the deterioration of environment, the ones wronging nature as we are all witnessing it. Everyone has to work for a better environment.”

Australian agronomist Tony Rinaudo, known as the “forest maker”, receives the Award “for demonstrating on a large scale how drylands can be greened at minimal cost, improving the livelihoods of millions of people”.

Rinaudo, pioneer of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, said:

“Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration is embarrassingly simple and being adopted by millions of the world’s poorest farmers, because they see the benefits: increased food and fodder production and increased income generation. One of the greatest benefits is unseen – the restoration of hope.”

The three cash awards are worth SEK 1 Million (EUR 96,000) each and will be used to support the Laureates’ successful work. The prize money is not for personal use.

The 39th Right Livelihood Award Presentation will take place today at 19.30-20.10 (CET) in the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, home to the world’s only preserved 17th century ship and the most visited museum in Scandinavia. The entire presentation, which involves a wide range of performances, will be live-streamed on rightlivelihoodaward.org. Members of the media interested in receiving a live broadcast are encouraged to contact the Right Livelihood Award Foundation. The celebration will continue throughout the evening with a dinner and acceptance speeches.


For more information and interview requests:

Further details on the 2018 Laureates, alongside high-resolution photographs and videos, are available at: rightlivelihoodaward.org/2018-award-presentation.

Award Presentation

The 39th Right Livelihood Award Presentation takes place in Stockholm, Sweden, and is a by-invitation-only event. It is followed by dinner and Laureates’ acceptance speeches. The Award Presentation will be conducted in English.

  • Location: Vasa Museum, Stockholm
  • Date: November 23, 2018
  • Time: Program at 18.00-22.00.
  • Award presentation at 19.30-20.10.
  • Laureates’ acceptance speeches: 21.30-22.15
  • Livestream: www.rightlivelihoodaward.org

Questions and registration: Johannes Mosskin, see above.

About the Right Livelihood Award Foundation

Established in 1980, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation honours and supports courageous people and organisations offering visionary and exemplary solutions to the root causes of global problems. The Swedish Foundation sees its role as being the megaphone and shield for the Laureates, and provides them with long-term support. It seeks to help protect those Award recipients whose life and liberty are in danger. The Foundation has Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

The Right Livelihood Award is annually presented to four Laureates. Unlike most other international prizes, it has no categories. The Award recognises that, in striving to meet the human challenges of today’s world, the most inspiring and remarkable work often defies any standard classification. In total there are now 174 Laureates from 70 countries.

The Award Week

The 2018 Right Livelihood Award programme covers a full week of events and high-level meetings in Sweden, Switzerland and Germany. Some of them are listed below, more information can be found in the event section on our website.


  • 23 Nov – 19.30-20.10 (CET) Award presentation at the Vasa Museum. The event is live-streamed on the Foundation’s website, live signal is provided to interested media. The Award presentation is followed by a dinner and Laureates’ acceptance speeches.


  • 26 Nov – Meeting with the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Kate Gilmore.
  • 26 Nov – 18.30-20.00 (CET) Celebration of the 2018 Right Livelihood Award Laureates at Maison de la Paix, organised in partnership with The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Open to the public, register here.


  • 27 Nov – Roundtable meeting in the German Bundestag organised by the Right Livelihood Awards’ German parliamentary support group.
  • 28 Nov – The Swedish Embassy in Berlin is hosting a large event for invited guests at ‘Felleshuset’.


  • 28 Nov – 11th Right Livelihood Award Lecture with Tony Rinaudo, University of Zurich. Open to the public, register online.


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