Friends of the Earth's Nnimmo Bassey Wins 2010 Right Livelihood Award


Nnimmo Bassey (center) leading the Friends of the Earth contingent arriving for the Global Day of Climate Action, December 12th, 2009 in Copenhagen. Photos: Matthew McDermott.

"For revealing the full ecological and human horrors of oil production and for his inspired work to strengthen the environmental movement in Nigeria and globally," Nnimmo Bassey, executive director of Environmental Rights Action and chair of Friends of the Earth International, has just been co-awarded the 2010 Right Livelihood Award, also know as the Alternative Nobel Prize.In lauding his achievements, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation says,

Nnimmo Bassey's work as Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria and Chair of Friends of the Earth International has turned him into one of Africa's leading advocates and campaigners for the environment and human rights. Indefatigably, Bassey has stood up against the practices of multinational corporations in his country and the environmental devastation they leave behind destroying the lives and ignoring the rights of the local population.

As TreeHugger has highlighted (and not to take away from the impact of the Gulf Oil Spill), damaging oil spills occur on a daily basis in the Niger Delta. Each year for the past 50 years a spill the size of the Exxon Valdez spill has happened, with at least 300 major and minor spills occurring annually. Official government figures list 3200 oil spills in the last four years alone.

Bassey commented back in May, "We see frantic efforts being made to stop the spill in the US. But in Nigeria companies largely ignore their spills, cover them up and destroy people's livelihood and environments. The Gulf spill can be seen as a metaphor for what is happening daily in the oilfields of Nigeria and other parts of Africa."

During COP15, my only personal interaction with Bassey, he laid out plainly what is required to address our tangled energy/climate mess. I wrote at the time:

Bassey said that people in developed nations have to start doing less, start using less energy, start using fewer natural resources, start eating less meat. The glib version which Bassey is fond of saying is "Leave the oil in the soil. Leave the coal in the hole."

More on Nnimmo Bassey's history and achievements: Right Livelihood Award: 2010 - Nnimmo Bassey

Sharing the €200,000 ($272,000) cash award with Bassey are Brazil's Bishop Erwin Kräutler for his work protecting the human and environmental rights of indigenous people; Shrikrishna Upadhyay from Nepal for work in community mobilization; and Israel's Physicians For Human Rights for "their indomitable sprit in working for the right to health for all people in Israel and Palestine."

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More on Environmental Awards:
David Suzuki Wins 'Alternative Nobel' From Right Livelihood Foundation
Goldman Environmental Prize Winner Yu Xiaogang on Hydropower and Community in China
From Saving Seeds to Battling Shark Finning, Goldman Environmental Prize Honors 2010's Activists (Video)

Tags: Activism | Africa | Awards | Nigeria | Oil

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