CAFOD celebrates indigenous leader winning ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ alongside Greta Thunberg

25 September 2019

Davi Kopenawa Yanomami

Davi Kopenawa Yanomami has been fighting for the rights of his indigenous community for the past 25 years.

Davi Kopenawa, a Yanomami indigenous leader, has won this year’s Right Livelihood Award, known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’.

Davi is President and co-founder of Hutukara Yanomami Association (HAY) which shares the award with him. HAY is an indigenous organisation supported by CAFOD which works to protect the forests and the culture of indigenous peoples. 

“We are thrilled that the tireless efforts of Davi Kopenawa and the Hutukara Yanomami Association have been recognised with this prestigious award.

"At CAFOD we are proud to support an organisation that is on the frontline of the fight for indigenous rights and the protection of the Amazon forest," said Cecilia Iorio, CAFOD’s Brazil Country Representative.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Aminatou Haidar from Western Sahara and Guo Jianmei from China were the other winners of this year’s award.

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Preserving indigenous culture 

“Davi Kopenawa has been fighting for the rights of his people for over 25 years," said Cecilia Iorio. "This deserved recognition comes at a crucial moment, as indigenous peoples like the Yanomami face unprecedented threats. Brazil’s government has weakened environmental legislation, and implemented policies and budget cuts that violate indigenous rights, putting the hard-fought gains of previous years at risk.”

Davi said: “I am very happy to receive the award. It comes just at the right time and it is a show of trust in me and Hutukara and all those who defend the forest and planet Earth. The award gives me the strength to continue the fight to defend the soul of the Amazon forest.

“We, the peoples of the planet, need to preserve our cultural heritage as Omame [the Creator] taught – to live well caring for our land so that future generations continue to use it.”

Amazon Synod

A Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place on 6-27 October 2019 on the theme of “Amazonia, new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology”. Read our Amazon Synod FAQs

Over 30 years defending indigenous rights in Brazil

The Right Livelihood Foundation awarded Davi and the Hutukara Yanomami Association the Right Livelihood Award ‘for their courageous determination to protect the forests and biodiversity of the Amazon, and the lands and culture of its indigenous peoples’.

CAFOD has been supporting indigenous organisations in Brazil for over 30 years, empowering indigenous communities to demand their rights to land, education, and health, as enshrined in Brazil’s constitution. CAFOD works with the Hutukara Yanomami Association to promote the protection of Yanomami and Ye’kuana indigenous rights.

In 2014 Davi Kopenawa came to the UK to raise awareness of the threats indigenous communities face, and to launch CAFOD’s One Climate, One World Campaign.

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