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Wallenberg Medal and Lecture | Nnimmo Bassey, Environmental Leader, Architect, Poet

Tuesday, September 10, 2024
4:30-6:00 PM
Robertson Auditorium Ross School of Business Map
Full details on the Wallenberg website:

Nnimmo Bassey, executive director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation and a global environmental activist, will receive the 2024 Wallenberg Medal from the University of Michigan on Tuesday, September 10th in Ann Arbor.

Nnimmo Bassey is an architect and director of the Nigeria-based ecological think-tank, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and member of the steering committee of Oilwatch International, a network resisting the expansion of fossil fuel extraction in the Global South. He chaired Friends of the Earth International (2008-2012), was a co-recipient of the 2010 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” and received the Rafto Human Rights Prize in 2012. Bassey has received honorary doctorate degrees from University of York (UK) in 2019 and from York University (Canada) in 2023. Bassey’s books include To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and The Climate Crisis in Africa and Oil Politics: Echoes of Ecological War. His poetry collections include: We Thought It Was Oil But It Was Blood (1998), I Will Not Dance to Your Beat (2010), and I See the Invisible (2024).

“As an architect, poet, writer, and human rights advocate, Nnimmo Bassey works to address root cause issues driving climate migration, environmental and social impacts of extractive production, and hunger in the Niger Delta. His commitment to socio-ecological justice connects large-scale issues of climate change, exploitation of natural resources, and political/corporate intransigence to the lives of individuals in the Niger Delta and beyond,” said Sioban Harlow, Professor Emerita of Epidemiology and Global Public Health and chair of the Wallenberg Medal Executive Committee. “Just as Raoul Wallenberg trained as an architect at the University of Michigan before bringing his multifaceted skills to humanitarian work, Bassey’s background as an architect undergirds his environmental leadership.”


The Wallenberg Medal and Lecture honors the legacy of Raoul Wallenberg who graduated from U-M’s College of Architecture in 1935 and saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews near the end of World War II. In 1944, at the request of Jewish organizations and the American War Refugee Board, the Swedish Foreign Ministry sent Wallenberg on a rescue mission to Budapest. Over the course of six months, Wallenberg issued thousands of protective passports and placed many thousands of Jews in safe houses throughout the besieged city. He confronted Hungarian and German forces to secure the release of Jews, whom he claimed were under Swedish protection, and saved more than 80,000 lives.

Administered by the University’s Donia Human Rights Center, U-M awards the Wallenberg Medal to those who, through their actions and personal commitment, perpetuate Wallenberg’s extraordinary accomplishments and human values, and demonstrate the capacity of the human spirit to stand up for the helpless, to defend the integrity of the powerless, and to speak out on behalf of the voiceless.

The Wallenberg Medal and Lecture ceremony is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required. Please direct any inquiries about the event and requests for event accommodations to or 734-936-3973.
Building: Ross School of Business
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Climate Change, Environment, human rights, Interdisciplinary, Social Impact, social justice, sustainability
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Wallenberg Lecture, International Institute, Donia Human Rights Center

International Institute Programming

The International Institute’s centers sponsor numerous conferences, lectures, exhibits, and cultural performances throughout the year. These events are designed to educate the university community and the public about global issues and inspire discussion and dialogue. 

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