The Rafto Prize 2012 has been awarded to Nnimmo Bassey from Nigeria. Mr Bassey is Chair of the Executive Committee of Friends of the Earth International.
In its announcement, the Board of the Rafto Foundation emphasised Mr Bassey’s long-term fight for people’s right to life, health, food and water in a world affected by complex and threatening climate change and large-scale environmental detruction.
He is looking for new and sustainable solutions for those who throughout history have been denied their rights. The aims are for local communities to make sustainable choices with healthier levels of consumption, for rich countries to compensate poorer countries so that they do not extract all their resources, and for multi-national other large companies to be forced to take human rights and the environment into account. In this way, Nnimmo Bassey links climate andenvironmental issues as a human matter to poverty and other social and economic issues.
By awarding the Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize for 2012 to Nnimmo Bassey, the Rafto Foundation says that it gives its support to his work in the organisations Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) and Environmental Rights Action (ERA).
In a message of congratulation, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide says:
“The prize is recognition of Nnimmo Bassey’s tireless efforts to raise awareness of the human rights dimensions of the challenges we face in relation to climate change and the environment.”
“We hope this award will inspire further efforts to combat pollution caused by oil companies in the Niger Delta. Mr Bassey has himself experienced political oppression and knows all too well that for most people the fight for the environment goes hand in hand with the fight for political power,” said Norwegian Minister of International Development Heikki Holmås.
The Rafto Foundation has since 1987 awarded, annually, the Rafto Prize for Human Rights to advocates of human rights and democracy. The prize commemorates Thorolf Rafto professor of economic history at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen. Professor Rafto devoted his life to promoting democracy and respect for human rights, especially in Eastern Europe.