In 2023, the annual RIAS/UCR “Sustainable Freedoms” Essay Prize was won by Alessia Aresi for her excellent and thought-provoking essay, “Fracking: The Choice between Black Gold and Fundamental Rights.”

The jury chose Alessia Aresi’s study “Fracking” as the winner of the “Sustainable Freedoms” prize. In this excellent essay, Alessia examines the practice of fracking in light of the connection between its problematic environmental consequences and its impact on human rights and social well-being. Drawing from two illuminating case studies in the United States – Pennsylvania and Texas – Alessia explains how the interaction of environmental, social, political, and economic factors created by fracking results in serious human rights issues. Her essay devotes particular attention to issues respect to rights involving participatory decision-making (especially with regards to common resources), health, and equality (as fracking enhances inequality along racial/ethnic and socio-economic lines). The jury appreciated the comparative approach, the clear references to human rights as delineated in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech, and the lucid and clearly structured way in which Alessia presented her arguments.

Alessia’s essay is available here – the jury encourages everyone to read it!

The prize consists of a certificate and €500, which will be awarded to Alessia at the Roosevelt Environmental History Lecture on 30 October 2023. The RIAS extends its warmest congratulations to Alessia and to all of the finalists!