STOCKHOLM - Recipients of the 2022 Right Livelihood Award show that systems change is not only possible but outright necessary in the face of failing governance and the breakdown of international order.
Hailing from Somalia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Uganda, the 2022 Laureates have each created new models for human and societal interactions that challenge the status quo. With crises stemming from authoritarian governance, international aggression, profit-seeking economic systems and political inertia to take action against a planetary climate breakdown, these change-makers have imagined a better world and work tirelessly to make it a reality.
The 2022 Laureates are:
Fartuun Adan and Ilwad Elman “for promoting peace, demilitarisation and human rights in Somalia in the face of terrorism and gender-based violence.”
Oleksandra Matviichuk and the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) “for building sustainable democratic institutions in Ukraine and modelling a path to international accountability for war crimes.”
Cecosesola of Venezuela “for establishing an equitable and cooperative economic model as a robust alternative to profit-driven economies.”
Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) “for their courageous work for climate justice and community rights violated by extractivist energy projects in Uganda.”
“The 2022 Right Livelihood Laureates are grassroots actors dedicated to strengthening their communities. In the face of failing governance and a breakdown of order - including wars, terrorism, extractivism, massive displacement and economic crises - they have established new, human-centric systems. Their successes demonstrate how we can build societies on the principles of justice rather than exploitation,” said Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director at Right Livelihood.
Founded in 1980, the Right Livelihood Award honours and supports courageous people solving global problems. The award comes with long-term support to highlight and expand Laureates’ work.
In 2022, 175 nominees from 77 countries were considered. Previous Laureates include Edward Snowden (United States of America), Dr Denis Mukwege (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Greta Thunberg (Sweden).
The 2022 Laureates will be honoured during a televised Award Presentation in Stockholm on Wednesday, 30 November.
Fartuun Adan and Ilwad Elman are Somali human rights defenders who lead community-based peacebuilding initiatives and provide life-saving support to marginalised groups. Through their organisation Elman Peace, the mother and daughter have used innovative and culturally relevant solutions to support survivors of gender-based violence, disarm and rehabilitate former child combatants, and equip women and youth with job and leadership skills.
Elman Peace’s community-based disarmament and reintegration approach addresses the underlying causes of extremism, and in doing so, provides opportunities for both former combatants and at-risk youth. Adan and Elman’s process includes psychosocial support, rehabilitation, education, skills training and job creation. Due to its success, Adan and Elman’s model has been scaled to address similar conflicts throughout West and Central Africa.
Elman and Adan have institutionalised Elman Peace’s approach so that it lasts for generations to come. With the vision to democratise knowledge, rather than increase the number of Elman Peace locations, they developed the network Peace by Africa, which has grown to over 60 peacebuilding organisations. Together with Peace by Africa, Elman Peace is empowering women and the next generation of youth to fully and equally participate in the processes that ensure their wellbeing.
Ilwad Elman said: “When you are working in the field, sometimes you just have your head down. And you don't see that people are watching and recognising the efforts that you're putting in. This award offers recognition and a system of solidarity for not only my mom and me, but for the big team that we work with that doesn’t always have a spotlight on them.”
Oleksandra Matviichuk and the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL)
Oleksandra Matviichuk is one of the most prominent human rights defenders in Ukraine striving to achieve a full democratic transition and ensure justice. As Chairwoman of the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), she and the organisation have been instrumental in strengthening Ukrainian civil society and national institutions for over a decade, while also pushing to further the rule of law and adherence to international law. Their work of documenting war crimes and human rights violations is paving the way to accountability, gaining increasing importance since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
CCL was founded in 2007 to promote human rights, democracy and solidarity in Ukraine and Eurasia. The organisation rose to prominence in 2013 by documenting human rights violations and providing legal assistance during the violent crackdown on the Euromaidan protests. The organisation has also launched initiatives to monitor various government agencies for civil rights violations, provide education on human rights, document pressure on civil society and map persecutions of human rights defenders.
In the realm of international law, Matviichuk and CCL have long advocated for Ukraine to join the International Criminal Court. This work has become especially important in the context of Russia’s war on Ukraine, setting an example for documenting war crimes and human rights violations. Through their work, Matviichuk and CCL ensure accountability and build a democratic future for Ukraine.
Oleksandra Matviichuk said: “Now we are going through a very dramatic time of Ukrainian history: we are fighting for freedom in all senses. We are fighting for the freedom to be an independent state, we are fighting for the freedom to be Ukrainians, we are fighting for the freedom to have a democratic choice. We are paying a rather high price for this. So, this Award is a gesture of support for our struggle in general, and for my work, in particular.”
Cecosesola (Central de Cooperativas de Lara) is a network of community organisations from low-income areas that produces and provides affordable goods and services to more than 100,000 families across seven Venezuelan states.
Guided by a process of cultural transformation, the network has vastly expanded over the last 55 years to include cooperative funeral services, food markets, a health network, savings and loans services, as well as agricultural production and small processing plants. Cecosesola’s economic activities are almost entirely self-financed and are offered well below retail prices.
Cecosesola is a beacon that inspires those that are looking for a different way to approach economic activities, transcending the traditional hierarchical model present in private and governmental enterprises. The organisation centres on learning, through collective reflection, about the relationships that emerge in the workplace and its surroundings, guided by transparency, mutual support and equity.
Cecosesola has routinely evolved its ways of working to best address the problems oppressing Venezuelan society, including food shortages, hyperinflation, massive migration and financial crises. Today, Cecosesola maintains a flat organisation where all voices are valued equally, and decisions are made in the collective.
Representatives of Cecosesola said: “This Award increases the possibility to share our more than 50 years of experience at an international level. And, to create new relationships with organisations and people who are also committed to building a world of solidarity.”
Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO)
Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) is a Ugandan organisation empowering communities to stand up against environmentally damaging projects linked to the exploitation of oil and gas. Through advocacy, media campaigns, and local and international legal action, AFIEGO has ensured that communities’ voices are heard by decision-makers.
The discovery of Uganda’s commercial oil reserves in 2006 has led to an increase in land grabs, illegal displacement and environmental degradation in the past decade. Founded in 2005, AFIEGO has emerged as a key player in protecting the rights of affected communities. In particular, the organisation has been at the forefront of efforts to stop the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which would transport Uganda’s crude oil to a port in Tanzania. Through gathering evidence to be used in court cases and drawing attention to the impact of the planned pipeline on local communities, AFIEGO has been instrumental in creating international pressure to stop the construction.
AFIEGO’s work has drawn severe backlash from the Ugandan government, resulting in threats and harassment, including arrests and detentions, against its staff. However, AFIEGO continues to fight for environmental protection and the well-being of affected communities using innovative legal methods and creating space for civil society voices.
Dickens Kamugisha, AFIEGO’s Chief Executive Officer said: “For the work that we do here in Uganda, you need to be encouraged, you need to be motivated. We face a very hostile environment, including arrests. When the government knows that there are people around the world who appreciate our work, they think twice about attacking us or our communities. So, this Award means that we can help many more communities.”
About Right Livelihood
Established in 1980, Right Livelihood honours and supports courageous people solving global problems. Housed under the umbrella of a foundation, Right Livelihood is a courage-powered community for social change committed to peace, justice and sustainability for all.
Each year, Right Livelihood highlights change-makers through an Award. To date, 190 Laureates from 74 countries have received the distinction. By recognising the actions of brave visionaries and building impactful connections around the world, Right Livelihood boosts urgent and long-term social change.
However, the work of Right Livelihood goes beyond only presenting the Award: they provide these change-makers with life-long support. Right Livelihood is a megaphone and a shield for the Laureates: raising their profile, providing them protection when their lives and liberty are in danger, and educating people on their innovative solutions.
Right Livelihood is headquartered in Stockholm, with an office in Geneva. The Foundation has Consultative Status with the UN.