In a speech upon receiving Amnesty International’s top human rights award Monday night, 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg credited the work of thousands of her fellow youth climate campaigners for heightening global awareness of the existential threat posed by the ecological crisis and the need for bold action.
“I think there is an awakening going on,” Thunberg said during an award ceremony in Washington D.C. “Even though it is slow, the pace is picking up and the debate is shifting. This is thanks to a lot of different reasons, but it is a lot because of countless activists, especially young activists.”
“We are fighting for our lives. But not only that, we are also fighting for our future children and grandchildren, for future generations, for every single living being on earth, whose biosphere we share, whose biosphere we are stealing, whose biosphere we are ruining.”
Thunberg and the youth-led Fridays for Future climate movement she inspired were honored with Amnesty’s 2019 Ambassador of Conscience Award for their efforts to bring the planetary emergency to the forefront of global attention and force world leaders to act.
The event came days before millions of people are expected to take part in climate strikes in over 130 countries across the globe on Friday.
“We, who together are the movement Fridays for Future, we are fighting for our lives,” said Thunberg. “But not only that, we are also fighting for our future children and grandchildren, for future generations, for every single living being on earth, whose biosphere we share, whose biosphere we are stealing, whose biosphere we are ruining. We are fighting for everyone.”
“Activism works,” Thunberg added. “So, what I’m telling you to do now is to act. Because no one is too small to make a difference. I’m urging all of you to take part in the global climate strikes on September 20th and September 27th.”
Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty’s secretary general, said in a statement Tuesday that Thunberg and youth climate leaders around the world have “laid down the challenge” for the rest of humanity.
“In an apathetic world drifting towards calamity, they have stood up as our collective conscience and said, ‘enough is enough,'” said Naidoo. “They have demanded that we stop ignoring the magnitude of the crisis and stop making excuses, and instead start mobilizing.”
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“Now it’s time for every single one of us to follow them,” Naidoo said. “A mass movement is needed if we want to force governments and corporations into long-overdue action.”