Greta Thunberg wins 1 million euro prize, says she will donate it to environmental groups

Energy News

Greta Thunberg in a photograph taken in Geneva, Switzerland, on August 8, 2019.

FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP | Getty Images

Climate activist Greta Thunberg plans to donate a 1 million euro ($1.14 million) prize to organizations focused on the environment and climate change.

The 17 year old Swede was named winner of the inaugural Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity on Monday. In a video, she described herself as being “incredibly honored and extremely grateful … this means a lot to me and I hope that it will help me do more good in the world.”

“All the prize money will be donated through my foundation to different organizations and projects who are working to help people on the front lines affected by the climate crisis and ecological crisis, especially in the Global South,” she went on to say.

She added that the money would also “help organizations and projects who are fighting for a sustainable world and who are fighting to defend nature and the natural world.”

Breaking the initial donations down, Thunberg tweeted that 100,000 euros would be donated to the “SOS Amazonia Campaign led by Fridays For Future Brazil to tackle Covid-19 in the Amazon.” A further 100,000 euros will go to the Stop Ecocide Foundation.

The Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity says it “aims to recognise people, groups of people and/or organisations from all over the world whose contributions to mitigation and adaptation to climate change stand out for its novelty, innovation and impact.”

The Portugal-based Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation was set up in the 1950s following the death of Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, a wealthy businessman and philanthropist with interests in oil. 

Since starting a protest outside the Swedish parliament in 2018, Thunberg has risen to global prominence, becoming the figurehead for a series of school strikes by children around the world.

This is not the first time she has donated prize money to organizations and causes she supports. In April, after winning the Human Act Award, she said she would donate the $100,000 prize money to UNICEF. The Human Act Award matched Thunberg’s donation with a further $100,000.

River pollution

Thunberg’s donation came in the same week that research from Royal Holloway, the Zoological Society of London and Natural History Museum painted a stark picture of how plastic pollution is affecting London’s River Thames.

In an announcement Tuesday, Royal Holloway – which is part of the University of London – said three studies by postgraduates from its department of biological sciences had shown that microplastics were “present in high quantities throughout the tidal Thames and are being ingested by wildlife.”

One of the studies estimated that during peak ebb tides – when water flows towards the sea – 94,000 pieces of microplastic moved down some parts of the river each second while another found that around 95% of mitten crabs examined had “tangled plastic” in their stomachs. A third looked at the impact of “non-flushable” and “flushable” wet wipes.

“Taken together these studies show how many different types of plastic, from microplastics in the water through to larger items of debris physically altering the foreshore, can potentially affect a wide range of organisms in the River Thames,” Dave Morritt, a professor at Royal Holloway, said in a statement.

“The increased use of single-use plastic items, and the inappropriate disposal of such items, including masks and gloves, along with plastic-containing cleaning products, during the current Covid-19 pandemic, may well exacerbate this problem,” he added.

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