Professor Paul Ekins retires in June 2022 after 35 years of serving Right Livelihood in various positions.

Paul Ekins New Chair of the Board

News 09.11.2018

Paul Ekins (UK) is new Chair of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation’s board. Ekins has been a member of the board since 1995 and succeeds Dr Monika Griefahn who had held the position since 2015. Dr Griefahn is continuing her engagement with the Foundation as member of the board.

Paul Ekins commented:

“In the name of the whole board, I want to thank Monika Griefahn for her effective, inclusive and very successful chairmanship for a three-year term since 2015. Under Monika’s leadership during this period, the foundation established an office in Geneva, which one third of our Laureates have visited so far, and acquired consultative status with the United Nations. Donations to the foundation – and thus our capacity to increase the visibility and impact of our Laureates – rose by more than 50% during this time. She steps down with the Foundation in excellent shape. I am delighted that she has agreed to remain on the Board.”

The Chair is elected for a three-year term. When handing over the chairmanship,

Dr Monika Griefahn commented:

“It’s been a great honour for me to chair the Foundation’s board over the past three years. What differentiates the Right Livelihood Award from most international prizes is that we promise our laureates – who are leading change processes? across the globe – long-term support. I’m therefore very proud that we together with our committed staff team have been able to strengthen the support we can provide to our Laureates by opening an office in Geneva, expanding the protection work for Laureates under threat and open more Right Livelihood College Campuses around the world. ”

Paul Ekins has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of London. He is Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy, Director of the University College London (UCL) Institute for Sustainable Resources, and Director of Research at the School of Sustainable Resources and Energy at UCL. He is also a Co-Director of the UK Energy Research Centre and has extensive experience consulting for business, government and international organisations.

Paul Ekins’ academic work focuses on the conditions and policies for achieving an environmentally sustainable economy. He received a Global 500 Award ‘for outstanding environmental achievement’ from the United Nations Environment Programme in 1994.

Read a short interview with Ekins below:

How do you feel about becoming the new Chair of the board at the Right Livelihood Award Foundation?

It is clearly a great privilege and a great responsibility. The Foundation does very important work and the Board has the task of ensuring that this is carried out in accordance with Swedish Charity law. At the same time, the Foundation has to remain innovative and creative, supporting our Laureates across the whole range of issues on which they work, which basically encompass all the major challenges facing humanity.

You were the Executive Director of the Foundation back in 1987 and later joined the board in 1995. The Foundation has developed quite a lot since then. What have been the most important changes from your perspective?

In 1987 the Foundation had just me as a core staff member, and some secretarial assistance. There was an all-volunteer committee in Sweden that organised the Award ceremony. It is a testament to their commitment and expertise that everything went pretty smoothly and the Award built its credibility and reputation. In the early 1990s the main Right Livelihood office moved to Stockholm, with a full-time Office Manager, while I remained Research Director operating from the UK. Since then it has gradually evolved into the highly professional operation it is today. The main changes in what we are able to accomplish is far greater media outreach, a step change in the support and protection, where needed, that we can offer to recipients and, of course, the Right Livelihood College, which was founded about ten years ago.

What will be your main priorities as the new Chair of the Board?

As noted above, I shall be concerned to ensure that we operate according to Swedish charity law, and obviously I and my fellow Board members will also want to make sure that the Foundation is on a sustainable financial footing. We shall also be pleased to ensure that our long-term strategy and short-term priorities continue to reflect and respond to the threats and opportunities facing humanity today. The mission of the Foundation has always been to demonstrate that there are solutions to the many worrying issues humans are now facing worldwide, and we will continue to seek out the people and organisations behind these solutions, celebrate them with our Awards, and support and protect them thereafter. The Board will, however, not be much involved in the day-to-day running of the Foundation. We are blessed with a wonderful Executive Director and very committed and expert staff, and we shall certainly be keen to let them run the show operationally.

The Foundation is building on a long and rich history. So far, 174 Laureates from 70 countries have been honoured and the Foundation turns 40 years in 2019. What are the most pressing issues for the Foundation laying ahead?

We have to find new and creative ways of getting our messages out and encouraging policy makers, decisions makers, and people generally to do what they can to amplify, magnify, support and replicate the impact of our Laureates. The sobering fact is that, despite our work over nearly four decades, and that of innumerable other people and organisations, many of the issues addressed by our Laureates – poverty, observance of human rights, climate change, sustainable development to name just four – are not improving in the world as a whole, or at least nothing like as fast as they need to. We are well placed to continue to make our contribution – but we have to ensure that we do it as effectively as possible.

Prof. Paul Ekins

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