Prize Shared By Environmentalists, British Architect
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ A Brazilian engineer fighting the destruction of the Amazon jungles, a Malaysian environmental group and a British specialist in housing for the poor today won the $100,000 Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the ″alternative Nobel prize.″
An honorary award, which carries no cash prize, went to Denmark’s Inge Kemp Genefke, founder and director of the International Rehabilitation and Research Center for Torture Victims, for her work ″to help those whose lives have been shattered by torture.″
The award was established in 1980 by Swedish-German philanthropist Baron Jakob von Uexkull to encourage practical solutions to everyday problems.
Von Uexkull sold a stamp collection to finance an initial $500,000 endowment for the annual prizes. They will be awarded in the Swedish parliament on Dec. 9, the eve of the Nobel prize ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo, Norway.
The 10-member jury includes von Uexkull, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, former Costa Rican President Rodrigo Carazo and Robert Muller, a former U.N. assistant secretary general.
The 1988 winners were Brazil’s Jose Lutzenberger, the Friends of the Earth group fighting the logging industry in the Malaysian province of Sarawak, and John Turner, a London architect and author of self-help programs for Third World housing development.
Von Uexkull told a news conference that the award had ″gained recognition″ since it was introduced and had helped draw attention to environmental issues.
The cash stipend, which the winners will share, is for specific projects and not for personal use, according to the Right Livelihood Foundation.
The timing of the prize is linked to the announcement of the six Nobel prizes to ensure maximum publicity. The Nobel Peace Prize, given to the U.N. peacekeeping forces, was announced last week and the laureates in literature, chemistry, phyisics, economics and medicine will be made public over the next eight days.
Von Uexkull created the prize because he believed the Nobel prizes had become too specialized and removed from issues concerning everyone.
He said this year the winners were chosen from among 92 nominations, which can be submitted by anyone.
The foundation cited Lutzenberger as ″the father of the environmental movement in Brazil″ who has launched soil regeneration projects and encourged posion-free agriculture.
Lutzenberger, 61, quit his job with a Brazilian chemical company in 1972 to campaign against the overuse of chemicals in farming.
His criticism of projects funded by the World Bank raised an environmental awareness into the bank’s activities in Brazil and elsewhere, the foundation said.
Lutzenberger also helped raise the alarm over the clearing of the Amazon rain forests for agriculture. ″An area the size of France and Scotland is burning. At this rate the forests of Brazil will be destroyed in 20 years,″ von Uexkull said.
In Malaysia, Sahabat Alam, or The Friends of the Earth, was recognized for its conflict with the authorities over the deforestation in Sarawak.
The foundation cited Harrison Ngau, 28, director of the Sarawak office, who led a blockade against the a lumber company which it said was owned by Environment and Tourism Minister James Wong.
Ngau was arrested for 60 days and was still under orders restricting his travel, the foundation said.
John Turner, born in 1927, was honored for encouraging ″the freedom of communities to plan, build and manage their hown housing.″
Turner, founder of the Associated Housing Advisory Services, argued in a series of publications that Western urban development should not be imposed on Third World home dwellers.
The honorary award recognized Genefke’s work with torture victims in the Copenhagen-based research center.
Von Uexkull said the has documented cases of torture and has charged that as many as 25,000 people in the medical professions have been involved in acts of torture.