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Greta Thunberg
Via Instagram @gretathunberg

Greta Thunberg wins €1 million award, donates it to climate activist groups

The 17-year-old was awarded the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity for the way she’s ‘been able to mobilise younger generations’

Greta Thunberg is no stranger to accolades. In the last year, the 17-year-old has won a Right Livelihood Award (AKA the “alternative Nobel Prize”), been named TIME’s Person Of The Year, and even had a beetle named after her.

Now, the climate activist has been awarded the €1 million (£902k) Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity for the way she “has been able to mobilise younger generations for the cause of climate change”. However, Thunberg isn’t keeping the money, and will instead donate it to a handful of climate activist groups.

In a video shared on Instagram, Thunberg said she was “incredibly honoured and extremely grateful” to be awarded the prize, which she declared is worth “more money than I can even begin to imagine”.

She continued: “All the prize money will be donated through my Foundation to different organisations and projects, who are working to help people on the front lines affected by the climate and ecological crisis, especially in the Global South… (as well as those) fighting for a sustainable world and defending nature and the natural world.”

Thunberg revealed that she will start by giving €100k to the SOS Amazonia Campaign led by Fridays For Future Brazil, which is confronting the coronavirus crisis among communities in the Amazon. The activist will also donate €100k to Stop Ecocide “to support their work to make ecocide an international crime”. 

As well as being awarded the prize for her ability to galvanise young people in the climate movement, Jorge Sampaio, the chair of the prize jury, said Thunberg was given the accolate for “her tenacious struggle to alter a status quo that persists”.

This isn’t the first time Thunberg has refused to directly profit from an award. In October 2019, the activist declined an environmental prize awarded to her by the Nordic Council because, as she said at the time, “the climate movement does not need any more awards”.

“Until you start to act in accordance with what the science says is needed to limit the global temperature rise,” she added, “I – and Fridays For Future in Sweden – choose not to accept the Nordic Council’s environmental award, nor the prize money of 500,000 Swedish kroner (£40k).”

Last week (July 17), Thunberg co-authored an open letter urging world leaders to “now do the seemingly impossible”. Signed by Billie EilishLeonardo DiCaprioBjörk, and more, the letter said: “You must stop pretending that we can solve the climate and ecological crisis without treating it as a crisis.” It also compared what leaders had done to address climate change (“pretty much nothing”) and the global coronavirus response.