As the name suggests, it is not a real Nobel - the highest recognition to those who bring "the greatest benefits to humanity" -, but not for this reason can be considered of little value. On the contrary, it is a reward that recognizes the commitment of those who find practical solutions to the most urgent environmental and social problems in the world.
The Right Livelihood Award 2018 - this is the official name of the "almost Nobel" - was awarded to Tony Rinaudo, an Australian agronomist, who managed to find a natural and low-cost way to grow trees in the African desert.
Away from the spotlight, Tony Rinaudo has been saving the African territories from desertification and deforestation for 20 years, managing to regenerate trees even in desert areas: from the beginning of his stay in Niger, where his activity is concentrated, he has regenerated over 200 million trees, saving at least 2.5 million inhabitants.
What is your technique? Tony Rinaudo has started, like all those who try to improve the conditions of the African populations, helping the farmers to cultivate the fields and teaching them the right techniques. The results, however, were scarce and Rinaudo soon realized that they would never have benefited from a substantial improvement in that way.
Rinaudo began to think that it was not only deforestation and desertification the problem that threatened the survival of the people, but also some habits of the latter: in particular, the villagers uprooted the roots of the dry trees left by the cut or dried by the climate to light the fire needed for different daily activities.
The roots, however, were not completely dry; Rinaudo discovered that new trees could be born quickly if they were properly preserved and cared for. The Australian agronomist speaks of a real "underground forest", made from the roots that are waiting to be protected and cured.
Changing the habits of the people of the villages was the fulcrum of all his revolutionary activity; and that's how now another 22 African countries are putting his technique into practice.
What has helped make this discovery worthy of an alternative Nobel is its cost: only $ 20 per hectare!