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Chinese engineer, global activists get 'alternative Nobels'
by Staff Writers
Stockholm (AFP) Sept 29, 2011

A Chinese energy engineer, a Chadian lawyer, an international agricultural rights group and a US safe childbirth advocate won this year's Right Livelihood Awards, often dubbed the "Alternative Nobels," organisers said Thursday.

The 2011 awards highlight some of the world's most pressing issues "and present solutions how to overcome them," the Sweden-based Right Livelihood Foundation said in a statement, adding that the recipients would share the 150,000-euro ($205,100) cash prize.

Huang Ming, the first Chinese citizen to receive the prize, is an engineer and entrepreneur who received the honorary award for "his outstanding success in the development and mass-deployment of cutting-edge technologies for harnessing solar energy," the prize committee said.

The 53-year-old had thereby showed "how dynamic emerging economies can contribute to resolving the global crisis of anthropogenic climate change," it added.

Chadian lawyer Jacqueline Moudeina, 54, was meanwhile lauded for "her tireless efforts at great personal risk to win justice for the victims of the former dictatorship in Chad and to increase awareness and observance of human rights in Africa," the prize committee said.

International non-profit organisation GRAIN received the prize for "their worldwide work to protect the livelihoods and rights of farming communities and to expose the massive purchases of farmland in developing countries by foreign financial interests."

And finally, 71-year-old American Ina May Gaskin, who has been called "the most famous midwife in the world," was awarded for "her whole-life's work teaching and advocating safe, woman-centred childbirth methods that best promote the physical and mental health of mother and child."

Swedish-German philatelist Jakob von Uexkull, who founded the donor-funded prize in 1980, said this year's laureates represented some of the world's most pressing issues.

"Global climate chaos may well be the biggest challenge of our time threatening all other achievements," he said in a statement, adding that land grabs around the world meanwhile "aggravate the global food situation and threaten biodiversity."

At the same time, some countries see "dictators and torturers go unpunished while parents sell their children to work on farms because poverty does not leave them any other choice," he said, adding that in the developed world, we are fast becoming out of touch with ourselves, and with the most natural processes of our species like giving birth."

The awards ceremony will take place in the Swedish parliament on December 5.

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