Delhi-based environmental organization Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) has been conferred with the 2021 Right Livelihood Award also known as Sweden’s Alternative Nobel Prize for its “grassroots approach of empowering vulnerable communities to protect their livelihoods and claim their right to a clean environment.”
LIFE shared the award with Cameroonian women’s and girls’ rights activist Marthe Wandou, the first person from Cameroon to receive the Award, Russian environmental activist Vladimir Slivyak, and Canadian Indigenous rights defender Freda Huson.
The Swedish Right Livelihood Foundation, which awards the prize, said that “in the face of the worsening climate crisis, powerful governmental and corporate interests, and even a terrorist threat, the 2021 Laureates prove that solidarity is key to a better future for all.”
This award is a boost to people who are contributing to solve global problems. The award consists of 1 million Swedish crowns (115,000 USD) and long-term support to highlight and expand Laureates’ work.
A statement from Stockholm-based Right Livelihood on Wednesday said: “Despite a robust environmental protection law framework, access to justice for those intending to protect India’s remaining forests and biodiversity is often limited.
To fill this gap, LIFE was founded by lawyers Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary in 2005. Since then, LIFE has fought against some of India’s most significant environmental threats, including helping local communities stop the construction of a large-scale bauxite mine in the eastern state of Odisha and halt a hydropower project in the state of Arunachal Pradesh.”
LIFE works at the basic level with constant communication with communities and dealing with their problems even in remote places.
It also helps vulnerable populations to speak up for their rights and assert their voice in the decision-making process. Moreover, their focus also surrounded the area interest of strengthening institutions and reforming laws.
Ritwick Dutta said that they are very happy to receive this honour. “This is our first international prize, and it means a lot to us and to all the local groups across India that we are supporting.
The Award will help us increase the impact of our work, empowering more people to protect nature and livelihoods,” he added.
Furthermore, Ole von Uexkull, the executive director of Right Livelihood, said: “Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment works for justice and the protection of nature in the name of communities all over India.” He also appreciated the efforts of LIFE’s lawyers in fighting the governmental and corporate interests that threaten peoples’ survival and rights. “They empower citizens’ groups to claim their right to a clean environment, on which their livelihoods depend,” Ole added.
The idea of the annual Right Livelihood Award sprung for the first time in 1980. The founder, Swedish-German philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull, believed that there is a need to honour efforts that were being ignored by the Nobel Prizes.
The foundation said that a record number of 206 nominees from 89 countries were considered in 2021.