The Per Anger Prize Goes to Threatened Climate Activist From Moçambique

Anabela Lemos. Photo: Edson Artur

The climate activist Anabela Lemos from Moçambique was awarded the Per Anger Prize 2022. Anabela is fighting to protect the environment and for human rights, leading the environmental rights-group Justiça Ambiental (Climate Justice). The prize from the Swedish Government was awarded by The Living History Forum on March 31.

Anabela Lemos, the recipient of this year’s award, have worked for 20 years to protect the environment and help those affected by climate change. She is fighting against foreign corporations’ exploitation of natural gas and other natural resources in Moçambique. She insists on not giving up, despite her and her co-workers being exposed to threats, harassment, and burglary.

“People’s rights and the state of the environment and climate have deteriorated during the last years. But the situation would be even worse if there weren’t organisations like ours that constantly push to fight for it”.

The environmental rights group Justiça Ambiental, lead by Anabela, is working with campaigns against gas exploitation, coal, and land grabbing. They also support societies in risk of violations of human rights and conduct research. Anabelas’ work has led to an increase of the judicial protection for those affected by mark exploitation, and her activism has created global attention to several climate destructive projects. But her biggest driving force is to support the vulnerable people in the rural areas.

“The people in the rural areas in my country lack influence and are being oppressed. Their right to land and ocean is taken away from them, and their waters are polluted, which ruins the prerequisites for a good life. At the same time, they are expected to stay quiet for the best of the country. But where are their rights, their livelihood, their dreams, and their lives? Are these people a part of our country, or not?”

Anabela states that the most important thing is not to receive recognition, but that the award makes a difference.

 “I am so proud over the award. It is important for the work, for me and for my team, and for our friends and partners. One the other hand, we do not work to get recognition and praise. We do it because we believe in climate justice and that we have the law on our side”.

The Jury’s Motivation

“Anabela Lemos has fought for climate justice in Moçambique for over 20 years. Despite hate and threats, she is fighting against multinational corporations that plunder and exploit small scale farmers grounds, and force them away from their homes. Anabela Lemos work clearly shows that human rights and climate justice is closely linked.”

About the Prize

The Per Anger Prize is the Swedish Government’s international prize for human rights and democracy. The prize was established in 2004 in recognition of diplomat Per Anger’s efforts during the Second World War, when he saved Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust. The Living History Forum is commissioned by the Swedish Government to award the annual prize.

The nomination organisations are the Swedish section of Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders, Diakonia, Afrikagrupper, IM – individual human aid, We effect, Save the Children, Kvinna till Kvinna and the Church of Sweden.

Anabela Lemos was nominated for the Per Anger Award by the organisation We Effect.