The word cloud that captures the common themes and keywords of our incoming nominations.

From nominees to Right Livelihood Laureates: How does it happen?

News 06.09.2021

2021 Right Livelihood Laureates have just been selected! How? In rounds of intense discussions at a meeting of our Jury that took place last weekend!

With some members gathering in Hamburg, Germany, and others joining virtually from Chile to Nigeria, there was at least one thing all jury members had in common: a +600-page report compiling all nominees’ information they had to read thoroughly before the two-day meeting.

A long-standing member of the Jury and current Chair of the Right Livelihood Foundation, Paul Ekins, tells us some details about the selection process. But no more than that! To find out the new Laureates’ names, we’ll have to wait until the announcement on September 29!

The +600-page Jury report that was written by the team. Photo: Nina Tesenfitz

Q: What an exciting challenge to select the new Right Livelihood Laureates! Who are you on the Jury, and how do you lead this task?

The Jury is composed of Right Livelihood Board members and previous Laureates or their representatives, taking account of gender, regional, and expertise diversity. Even when we are not all in the same physical space this year, the process is an intense group exercise that we go through together for around 48 hours. It requires our total concentration, our ability to listen to each other and arrive at a consensus on the important issues to highlight this year.

We meet after we have all read the Jury report, which presents our staff’s research about this year’s nominees. Our first step is to choose, from the many deserving nominees, those on whom we want to concentrate for this year.

Q: What might we find in the Jury report if we were able to read it?

The report contains the Research Team’s work over the previous months, reviewing the information submitted with the nomination and external references, identifying and corresponding with experts, which amounts to more than 20,000 pages of information -without counting books and brochures. We also speak to, and, when conditions allow, visit some nominees. When condensing the information, the research team takes great care to convey the most relevant information, preserving the richness of the overall material and impressions reviewed while ensuring readability and avoiding redundancy.

It is a strictly confidential document where we find much inspiration as well as sadness, sometimes, that the challenges facing societies everywhere do not decrease but multiply. Forty years on, this shows me that the Award is as much if not more needed today than when Jakob von Uexkull founded it in 1980.

Q: What if a jury member has doubts or wants to know more about a particular nominee?

Our discussions and the information in the Jury report are enriched by the Jury members’ professional and regional expertise and experience. If a Jury member wants further information about aspects of a nomination, we defer its consideration to the following year, to give time for the research team to explore these aspects.

Q: What are the criteria for selecting the Laureates?

We consider the Award in terms of maximum impact for a just, peaceful and sustainable world for all. That’s the Right Livelihood vision.

This involves considering issues like the significance of the work in terms of its positive impact on other people, the transformation of the status quo, justice for present and future generations and the personal courage needed by the nominee to carry out the work. We are also looking for pioneering work in a particular field, and for nominees who are open to sharing their knowledge and experience, inspiring others to become active.

Q: Are the political circumstances of a nomination something you take into account?

The current political relevance of the nominee’s topic or country is obviously relevant to our discussions. For the Jury to assess this question correctly, members must bring to the table their analysis of political events and priorities in the different regions.

Q: How do you address the regional balance? Do you receive a similar number of nominations from different parts of the world?

The Right Livelihood Award has a global scope. As such, we try to be equally relevant for all world regions. The report is structured in a way that makes visible the under-represented parts of the world. In addition, we note at the top of every nomination report whether the country of the nominee has got a Right Livelihood Laureate yet.

Q: You select the four new Right Livelihood Laureates – what’s next?

After the Jury has agreed unanimously on this year’s Laureates, the names are submitted to the Board for confirmation. Then, it is the Communications team’s turn to work hard and fast to prepare everything for the public announcement of the Laureates. This year, the press conference is taking place at Kulturhuset on Wednesday, September 29, at 8 am Stockholm time (CEST).

Media contacts

Emoke Bebiak

English, French & International Media

Phone: +41 (0)78 333 84 84

Nayla Azzinnari

Spanish Media

Phone: +54 9 11 5460 9860

Nina Tesenfitz

German Media

Phone: +49 (0)170 5763 663

Sydney Nelson

Swedish Media

Phone: +46 (0)73 043 13 01