And The Award Goes To … Greta Thunberg

July 20th, 2020 by  

She’s 17 years old and already a prominent climate activist. Greta Thunberg’s accomplishments include designing the Friday “School Strikes for Climate” (hashtag #FridaysForFuture), and addressing a UN climate conference. She’s been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year and is among Forbes’ list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2019. She was nominated in 2019 and 2020 for the Nobel Peace Prize, and now she’s been given a major prize for humanity, which includes a €1 million award — which she’s donating to charity.

The first edition of the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity has been awarded to Greta Thunberg. The young Swedish environmental activist was selected among 136 nominees (corresponding to 79 organizations and 57 personalities) from 46 different countries.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, established in 1956, is a Portuguese philanthropic institution that is dedicated to the promotion of arts, charity, science, and education. The Prize aims to recognize people, groups of people, and/or organizations from all over the world whose contributions to mitigation and adaptation to climate change stand out for its novelty, innovation, and impact.

In her remarks upon receiving the Prize, Thunberg said she hopes “it will help me do more good in the world.” She added that the prize will “help organizations and projects who are fighting for a sustainable world, and who are fighting to defend nature and the natural world.”

Thunberg’s foundation will donate the award money of €1 million to charitable projects combating the climate and ecological crisis. It will support people facing the worst impacts, particularly in the Global South. The foundation will direct donations as follows:

SOS Amazonia

Calling the climate emergency “our generation’s biggest challenge” and “a path of no return towards the extinction of all of societies across the planet,” SOS Amazonia works to make transparent the imminent mass deaths of the Amazon’s peoples, especially the native peoples, who will be lost as a global consequence if the climate crisis is not addressed in the Global South. The organization seeks to help both the rural and urban Amazonian populations to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to avoid the ecological destruction of the heart of the Amazon.

“If we do not help the Amazon Rainforest’s populations, we will be allowing both the climate crisis and the new Coronavirus crisis to develop. By helping the urban population, we will also be helping the traditional peoples, as hospitals will also have more space and resources, to treat them properly according to safety and effectiveness standards.”

If you’d like to learn more about the effects of the western world on Amazonian communities, click through to this CleanTechnica book review on Touching the Jaguar.

Stop Ecocide

We know that mass damage and destruction of nature is taking place globally, and that it’s legally permitted. We know that in the US the Congress has allowed detrimental environmental impacts to go unchallenged. We know that the Trump administration has made a goal of watering down or eliminating environmental regulations.

Stop Ecocide is an international team working with legal researchers, international criminal lawyers, and small nation states interested in advancing an international crime of ecocide. Its advocacy work takes place at the highest levels and includes providing legal, strategic, and practical assistance to interested states.

They called their movement “Ecocide.” With campaign teams in the UK, Netherlands, and Spain so far, they have over 16,000 joined-up members — whom they call “Earth Protectors.” They say that more people donate also anonymously, which “is vital, because the more people call ecocide the crime that it should be, the stronger the momentum at international state level to establish it.”

Why Greta Thunberg Won

Jorge Sampaio, Chair of the Grand Jury of the Prize, points out that Greta Thunberg has accepted enormous responsibility in consolidating her pedagogical role and her leadership in the fight against climate change as a condition for sustainable development.

 “The way Greta Thunberg has been able to mobilize younger generations for the cause of climate change and her tenacious struggle to alter a status quo that persists, makes her one of the most remarkable figures of our days.”

The Grand Jury, composed of internationally renowned personalities from the fields of science, technology, politics, and culture, highlighted Thunberg’s charismatic and inspiring personality as well as the force of her singular and distressing message about the need to act now to mitigate the climate crisis.

Alerting youth to the existential crisis that humanity is facing because of climate change has been a primary goal for Thunberg. She gave voice to the concerns of young generations about their future;  she is known for her youth, direct and incisive communications, and her unprecedented global influence for someone of her age and life experience. 


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About the Author

Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. She’s won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation.
As part of her portfolio divestment, she purchased 5 shares of Tesla stock.
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