Date: Sep 17, 2019

Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future receive Amnesty International’s top honour

Climate change activist Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement of school-children have been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2019, the human rights organization announced today.

The awards ceremony took place in Washington D.C., USA, while further events were held in cities around the world, honouring Fridays for Future activists who represent the movement.

Upon receiving the award, Greta Thunberg said:

“This award is for all of those millions of people, young people, around the world who together make up the movement called Fridays for Future. All these fearless youth, fighting for their future. A future they should be able to take for granted. But as it looks now, they cannot.”

The Ambassador of Conscience Award is Amnesty International’s highest honour, celebrating people who have shown unique leadership and courage in standing up for human rights – people who have acted on their conscience and used their talents to inspire others.

Amnesty International chose to give the 2019 award to Greta because of her efforts to raise awareness of the climate crisis. Her decision to miss school every Friday starting in August 2018 and instead protest outside the Swedish parliament until it took more serious action to tackle the climate emergency kicked off the Fridays for Future movement. It has since mobilized more than one million young people from all over the world. 

This award was presented ahead of the Peoples’ Summit on Climate, Rights and Human Survival Summit, co-organized by Amnesty International. The event will welcome a considerable number of youth leaders and aims to galvanize the human rights community to urgently scale-up its efforts on climate justice. And with youth activists from 115 countries planning to stage climate protests from September 20-27, these young leaders aren’t about to let up the pressure.

“Millions of people are already suffering the catastrophic effects of disasters whose impacts have been made far worse by climate change. It is young people like Greta and those involved in the Fridays for Future school climate strike movement, who are proving that it is possible to change our ways,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo.

“These young leaders have laid down the challenge. In an apathetic world drifting towards calamity, they have stood up as our collective conscience and said, ‘enough is enough’. They have demanded that we stop ignoring the magnitude of the crisis and stop making excuses, and instead start mobilizing. Now it’s time for every single one of us to follow them. A mass movement is needed if we want to force governments and corporations into long-overdue action.”

The Ambassador of Conscience Award was founded in 2002 to celebrate individuals and groups who have furthered the cause of human rights by acting on their conscience, confronting injustice and using their talents to inspire others. Previous awardees include Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Harry Belafonte, Ai Weiwei, the Youth Groups of West and Central Africa, Angélique Kidjo, the Indigenous rights movement in Canada, Alicia Keys and Colin Kaepernick.

Background

Global climate strikes – 20-27 September
Youth activists from 115 countries plan to stage climate protests from September 20-27, with the main mobilisation day set for Friday 20 September, just ahead of a UN emergency climate summit. There are more than 2,400 events planned in 1,000 cities around the world.

Amnesty International South Africa will be participating in strikes across the country. 

Peoples' Summit on Climate, Rights and Human – 18-19 September
The Peoples' Summit on Climate, Rights and Human Survival – the first ever global summit on human rights and climate change – will be hosted by leading civil society groups and the UN Human Rights Office in New York from 18-19 September. The Summit aims to galvanize the human rights community to urgently scale-up its efforts on climate justice, creating the most diverse movement ever assembled to tackle the climate crisis.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Kuvaniah Moodley Media and Digital Content Consultant, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 11 283 6035, +27 78 095 3935 or kuvaniah.moodley@amnesty.org.za