Mariana Climent, Research Officer

Nominations are open: How our Research team is seeking new Right Livelihood Laureates

News 15.02.2023

Right Livelihood is receiving nominations for the 2023 Award until March 1! Now let’s talk about what the nomination process entails and, generally, how our Research team is seeking nominations for the Right Livelihood Award to be presented to the Jury.

In the following days, we’re expecting more than a hundred nominations to arrive in different languages through our digital form. The work of taking a close look at each of them, contacting the nominees, completing all needed information and doing further research is now just beginning for our colleagues.

Latin America Communications Manager Nayla Azzinnari spoke about this with Mariana Vargas Climent, Right Livelihood’s Research Officer based at our Geneva Office.

Nayla Azzinnari: “Nominations for the Right Livelihood Award are now open,” we read these days on the website and every social media channel of Right Livelihood. But what does it mean exactly? 

Mariana Climent: When we say that the nominations are open, we think of two aspects. Firstly, it means that currently Right Livelihood is seeking new nominees, people who are leading change-makers in their fields. We look for brave visionaries dealing with issues related to human rights, health, environment, peace, culture, sustainable development, justice, and other issues to promote long-term social change.

Secondly, our nomination process is completely open to the public. That means that anyone who is knowledgeable of the work of an individual or organisation creating structural changes can nominate them for the Award.

NA: How do you encourage nominations and spread the word about this period? Don’t you ever have the feeling that change-makers may not be aware about this call – especially those working hard on issues and in regions that really need and deserve the support provided by the Award? 

MC: We publicise our call for nominations with the intention of spreading the word as far as we can. We seek to reach organisations and people engaged in different topics, also coming from different regions to highlight the work of change-makers who deserve the Right Livelihood’s support. Through our own channels and with the help of Laureates and partners, we hope to have as broad a reach as possible.

Yes, there might be some blind spots in this area. However, we currently receive nominations from all around the world. As you said, our goal is to reach new countries and territories that may have been underrepresented so far. We want to help shine a light on change-makers that might not be aware of the Award and who are, in one way or another, contributing significantly to societal change.

NA: Is it your objective to receive more and more nominations every year? Or more than increasing numbers, do you prefer better-structured nominations or more diversity in the topics and countries the nominees come from?  

MC: We look for all of the above. However, our priority is receiving quality nominations that properly describe the work of the nominee. We look for, more than a certain number of nominations, to have nominations that reflect the world’s greatest challenges and people working on fixing them. We don’t seek to highlight only the biggest headlines but to cut through the noise and to recognise topics and change-makers that have not received the attention they deserve.

Diversity is also important. In recent years, we have put more effort into seeking gender parity in the nominations, and having a variety of regions and diversity in the topics nurtures our process. Our nomination form is available in French, Spanish and English. This has allowed us to reach a wide variety of countries, but we look to keep expanding our reach and get a more diverse set of nominees for our selection process.

NA: How close to the nominee do people need to be to present a nomination? What’s the role of the nominator once the application is submitted?  

MC: We don’t require the nominator to be particularly close to the nominee. It can even be the case that the nominator does not know the nominee personally but is aware of their work and can properly describe the different activities the nominee carries out.  Nominators can even choose to remain anonymous, so even their nominees would not be aware of who has nominated them.

After the nomination is completed, we only reach out to the nominator if we need further information about the nominee’s work, or if there is anything missing from the nomination form that is essential to continue with the process. Once the call for nominations is closed, we do not usually require any information or contact with the nominator until the Laureates of the year are selected. A relevant detail is that if the nominator’s candidate is selected, they typically would be invited to attend the Award Presentation held in Stockholm later in the year. So if you still have doubts, convince yourself now to nominate!

NA: Who is a good nominee? Do they take part in this process?

MC: A successful nomination is one that adequately reflects the work of the nominee, as well as how they have contributed to societal change in their specific context. You can get inspired from the profiles of the Laureates available on our website. From there, you can get a sense of the profiles and level of work that have been recognised through the years.

Once a nomination is submitted, we always reach out to the nominee to complete their nomination and ask their consent. We do this as part of our “do no harm” principle, which derives from the mandate for humanitarian actors to endeavour not to cause further damage and suffering to the ones receiving their support. This means in our case that recognising the work of activists should be for their benefit and not cause them any harm.

NA: How many nominations can you receive? How do you handle that amount of information once the nominations are closed? 

MC: We receive more than a hundred applications each year. After we receive all the nominations, the Research team’s work over the next months is to review the information submitted by both the nominators and the nominees. It is very important to check that the information we receive is complete and accurate. The team conducts independent research, which includes interviews with external experts and, in some cases, field visits.

After this information has been gathered, the Research team puts it together in a comprehensive report with all the nominations. From this report, the Jury will take the information and deliberate to make its decision. Even though we receive a considerable amount of information each year, the team’s work is to carefully process all nominations and guarantee that the vision and impact of the nominees is well reflected in the jury report.

NA: The selection of new Laureates relies on the jury decision, which in turn relies on your report. How does it feel to bear the responsibility for such exhaustive research? 

MC: There is definitely a sense of responsibility when drafting the jury report. However, we have a strong and meticulous process that is intended to reflect not only the nominee and nominator’s view but also of experts and other relevant resources available. The Jury is composed of incredibly qualified individuals, who are specialised in various topics and hail from different regions. The combination of the report with the Jury’s technical expertise ensures that the decision reached is well-informed and thoroughly debated.

NA: How would you describe your job? What do you like about your role? 

MC: My role as a Research Officer consists of conducting desk research and background research of the nominees. This includes interviewing external experts and conducting field visits to certain nominees in their home countries or countries of work. Also, I assist with the coordination of the yearly jury meeting and perform other administrative tasks related to the processing of nominations. At the end of the year, after the Laureates have been selected, I also conduct independent research on different topics that are of interest to Right Livelihood.

My favourite part about working at Right Livelihood is spending time with and getting to know inspiring people. Researching and interviewing Laureates are also a very interesting part of the job. Sharing the knowledge of the people we work with in a comprehensive way and researching various topics related to the most pressing global challenges have also provided me with new skills and knowledge. We are fortunate to have within the Laureates’ network the most knowledgeable experts on numerous topics, and connecting the dots between them has been fascinating.

NA: Finally, why should people submit nominations for the Right Livelihood Award?  

MC: The Right Livelihood Award not only brings prestige and global recognition to the Laureates, it also opens new doors and amplifies the voices of change-makers. Right Livelihood is not only an award, but it also goes far beyond that, it comes with long-term support. It enhances the Laureate’s protection and international reach, as well as provides them with an extended network of activists and organisations that are working daily for a better world. For many Laureates, Right Livelihood is a family that works relentlessly to provide them with better opportunities, networks, and chances for increased funding.

These are the various reasons why you should share with us whom you consider your real-life heroes!

Tips to submit a nomination:

  • Fill out the online form in English, Spanish or French
  • If you have any doubt, contact us to research@rightlivelihood.org
  • There are no categories 
  • Nominations remain confidential  
  • No self-nominations allowed 
  • You can nominate for a cash or an honorary award
  • The deadline is March 1

Media contacts

Emoke Bebiak

English, French & International Media

E-mail: emoke.bebiak@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +41 (0)78 333 84 84

Nayla Azzinnari

Spanish Media

E-mail: nayla@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +54 9 11 5460 9860

Nina Tesenfitz

German Media

E-mail: presse@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +49 (0)170 5763 663

Sydney Nelson

Swedish Media

E-mail: sydney.nelson@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +46 (0)73 043 13 01