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Tribute to Manfred Max Neef, winner of the alternative Nobel Prize in Economics

Tribute to Manfred Max Neef, winner of the alternative Nobel Prize in Economics

Right Livelihood award recipient Manfred Max-Neef passed away days ago at his home in Valdivia, Chile, at the age of 86. He will be forever remembered for his leadership, studies and dedication to the empowerment of impoverished communities.

Manfred Max-Neef was a Chilean economist recognized worldwide for his work on development alternatives. In 1983, he became the first Latin American to receive the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, for “revitalize small and medium-sized communities through the ‘Barefoot Economy’“.

The book for which he is best known, From the Outside Looking In: Experiences in Barefoot Economics (1981) published by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in Sweden, describes his experiences among the poor in South America as an economist trying to practice 'economics as if people will matter. " In the same year, he created CEPAUR (Center for Development Alternatives), a non-governmental organization in Chile dedicated to stimulating local self-sufficiency, meeting fundamental human needs, and promoting development on a human scale.

I broke my ties with the tendencies imposed by the economic establishment, I disconnected myself from objective abstractions and decided to get into the mudManfred Max-Neef said in the acceptance speech for the Right Livelihood Award (1983).

A committed environmentalist, passionate musician, and inspiring teacher, Manfred was also a leader seeking to create change from the bottom up. In 1993, he was the first environmentalist to run for president in Chile, garnering an impressively minority vote.

A year later, he was appointed Rector of the Austral University of Chile (UACh), where he taught for 25 years until his retirement last March. He was Director of the Master's Program in Human Scale Development and Ecological Economics, and Director of the Right Livelihood College in Valdivia.

During his long academic career, he was the author of fourteen books and more than a hundred scientific articles and essays that were translated into different languages. He received several prestigious recognitions, including the National Award for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (Chile) and the Kenneth Boulding Award from the International Society for Ecological Economics, as well as honorary degrees from international universities.

Although Manfred aspired to become a famous musician like his German parents, he never fulfilled his childhood dream. Yet his legacy lives on like music, touching the hearts and lives of many, inspiring and mobilizing them to fight for a more equitable and sustainable world.

When I was 11 years old, one day we were in a group of friends and the topic was 'what do you want to be when you grow up'. There was the doctor, the lawyer, the one who wanted to be an African explorer, and when it came to me, who was not clear about it, I said "I want to be a great man." Many understand that this means being a powerful, strong, rich man, leader. And no, for me, greatness was the ability to make friends. Today I can say that I managed to be a great man”: Manfred Max-Neef (March 2019).


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Nayla Azzinnari, +54 9 11 5460 9860, [email protected]

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