Rene Ngongo of the Democratic Republic of Congo was honoured “for his courage in confronting the forces that are destroying the Congo’s rainforests,” the jury said, adding that he built political support for their conservation and sustainable use.
Alyn Ware of New Zealand was lauded for being “one of the world’s most effective peace workers.”
The jury recognised his “effective and creative advocacy over two decades to further peace education and to rid the world of nuclear weapons.”
An Australian doctor who has been living and working in Ethiopia for 50 years, Catherine Hamlin was awarded the prize for “treating obstetric fistula patients, thereby restoring the health, hope and dignity of thousands of Africa’s poorest women,” the jury said.
Obstetric fistula is a condition caused notably by long or unrelieved obstructed labour. It was eradicated in the West when caesarean sections became widely available, but still affects more than two million women in the world’s poorest countries.
Ngongo, Ware and Hamlin will each receive €50,000 ($74,000) prize money.
Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki was also recognised and given an honorary award.
The jury praised “his massive contribution to raising awareness of the perils of climate change,” underlining his “lifetime advocacy of the socially responsible use of science.”
Jakob von Uexkull, a Swedish-German philatelist and former member of the European parliament, established the prize in 1980 to “honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.”
Since then, the prize has been funded by individual donors.
The awards ceremony will take place in the Swedish parliament on December 4.