Newly-launched Manfred Max-Neef Foundation to carry on work of 1983 Laureate

News 13.08.2020

1983 Right Livelihood Laureate Manfred Max-Neef. Credit: Wolfgang Schmidt

The Manfred Max-Neef Foundation was launched last weekend honouring the Chilean economist, musician and ecologist recognised worldwide for his work on establishing alternative ways for development, centred on returning economic advancement to a human scale. The launch took place one year after the passing of Max-Neef (1932-2019), the first Latin American Laureate to receive the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize.’

He received the Award in 1983 for “revitalising small and medium-sized communities through ‘Barefoot Economics’.”

In 1993, he once again became a pioneer by running for president in Chile as the first environmentalist and independent candidate. He became known as “the candidate of the absent issues,” promoting the development of local economies and participatory democracy.

Now, a year after Max-Neef’s passing, an international and interdisciplinary group of young professionals, who had been his colleagues and students, founded an organisation bearing his name with the purpose of updating his ideas and putting them into practice through activism, research, education and public advocacy.

“Manfred’s ideas are very pertinent to the challenges we face as humanity in the 21st century,” said Christian Henríquez Zuñiga, Director of the brand new Manfred Max-Neef Foundation. He said one of the new foundation’s first priorities will be to review Max-Neef’s presidential platform to contribute to the upcoming constituent process in Chile.

“I have heard many times and from the most varied voices what may even be a commonplace: we need a paradigm shift. Never before has this made so much sense to me,” said Magdalena Max-Neef, Max-Neef’s daughter and President of the Foundation.

“In light of the social upheaval, the pandemic, and many things that we have been experiencing in recent times, I believe that a paradigm shift must indeed be made. Today, more than ever, perhaps because it is now or never. I believe, in this sense, that the Manfred Max-Neef Foundation can make a tremendous contribution.”

The live-streamed launch also featured welcome messages from fellow Right Livelihood Laureates.

From Sweden, the Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation, Ole von Uexkull, said: “Manfred is world renowned for his countless publications and his belief in an economy that serves the development of people in harmony with ecosystems. There is something else to attribute to his work: having inspired new generations who, gathered in the light of his thought, now inaugurate a foundation that bears his name and defends his legacy. We applaud this happy birth.”

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