UCR “Sustainable Freedoms” Essay Prize 2023

In 2023, the third annual RIAS/UCR “Sustainable Freedoms Essay Prize” was awarded to Alessia Aresi for her excellent and thought-provoking essay, “Fracking: The Choice between Black Gold and Fundamental Rights.” 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 with respect to rights involving participatory decision-making (especially with regard 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 a special ceremony in the fall (date to be announced). The RIAS extends its warmest congratulations to Alessia and to all of the finalists! We appreciate the fantastic work being done on this important issue and we thank you for teaching us through your research.