The United Nations Secretary-General has congratulated Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg after she was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.
The outspoken 16-year old, who earlier this year lectured world leaders at the UN over their lack of urgency about the warming planet was lauded by Time for “becoming the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement.
When addressing world leader’s in September, Thunberg said, “People are suffering, people are dying, entire eco-systems are collapsing, we are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth – how dare you?”
Now one of the world’s most recognizable climate activists, with Time celebrating the power of youth with this recognition.
The UN Secretary General’s Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq says, “The SG as you’ve seen from what he’s said in recent months, is very proud of Ms Thunberg and the work she’s done but it’s not just her. As I understand it this is a recognition of the effect youth have been having on this debate and the SG has been very clear about the need for the world’s leaders to listen to the youth. It is their world that we are currently damaging through our inaction and our delayed action. One day they will be the inheritors of the world that we’ve left for them and we need to make sure that we have done right by them and good to see recognition of both the powerful role they can have when they make their voices heard and of the importance of listening to them.”
From protesting alone outside the Swedish Parliament during school hours on Fridays, she sparked a global movement that has blossomed into the Fridays For Future strike that has galvanized students to raise their voices on behalf of the planet. Greta’s currently in Madrid, Spain for the COP 25 Climate Conference.
“There is no sense of urgency whatsoever. Our leaders are not behaving as though we were in an emergency. In an emergency, you change your behavior. If there’s a child standing in the middle of the road and cars are coming at full speed, you don’t look away because it is too uncomfortable. You immediately run out and rescue that child. And without that sense of urgency, how can we, the people, understand that we are facing a real crisis. And if the people are not fully aware of what is going on then they will not put pressure on the people in power to act.”
Thunberg beat the likes of US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Xinping and even the Hong Kong Protestors for this year’s Time accolade. According to Time, in the 16 months since her solo protest began outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, Greta has addressed a Climate Change Summit at UN Headquarters, met the Pope, sparred with President Trump and inspired 4 million people to join a global climate strike this past September – lauding her move to create an attitudinal shift that has transformed millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change.
All before she’s even legal to vote.