Climate activist Greta Thunberg won the first edition of the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity. The award, one million euros, will be fully donated to people in the frontline of the climate crisis.
The Swedish teenager was the first winner of the Prize, an annual initiative from the Gulbenkian Foundation (Portugal) that “aims to recognize people, groups of people and/or organizations from all over the world whose contributions to mitigation and adaptation to climate change stand out for its novelty, innovation and impact”, according to an official statement.
On its first edition, the award had 136 nominees from 79 organizations and 57 personalities originally from 46 different countries.
The Prize’s Grand Jury Chair, Mr. Jorge Sampaio, highlighted the ample consensus around the winner. Sampaio, former Portugal’s President between 1996 and 2006, said Greta Thunberg mobilized the younger generations to climate change motive with her tenacious fight against the persistent status quo, making her one of the most remarkable personalities of our times.
The young environmentalist was honored and grateful. “This means a lot to me and I hope it helps me do more for the world”, she said. The prize money of one million euros (“more than I can even imagine”, Greta commented) will be fully donated through her Foundation to support organizations and projects that are fighting for a sustainable world, defending nature and supporting people already facing the worst impacts of the climate and ecological crisis, particularly those living in the Global South.
The first two projects receiving Greta’s help from this Prize are already set. Starting with giving €100.000 to the SOS Amazonia campaign, led by Fridays For Future Brazil to tackle Covid-19 in the Amazon, and €100.000 to the Stop Ecocide Foundation to support their work to make ecocide an international crime.
Born in 2003, Greta Thunberg reached worldwide status by alerting to the climate existential crisis humanity is facing. Her global influence is unprecedented for someone at her age. Considered one of the 100 more influential people by Time magazine, she was Person of the year in 2019 by the same magazine. Forbes included her in the 100 most powerful women’s list in 2019 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Award in the last two years.
Greta launched her non-profit Foundation back in February, following winning the Right Livelihood Award in December 2019, seen as an alternative Nobel prize. The money awarded, about €96.500, was used to set up Thunberg Foundation to promote social and ecological sustainability.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation was created in 1956 by the last will and testament of Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, an Armenian oil magnate and philanthropist who lived in Lisbon between 1942 and the year of his death, 1955. The Foundation, the largest in Portugal and amongst the largest forty in the world, aims to improve life quality through art, charity, science and education. It houses one of the largest private art collections in Europe, an Orchestra and Ballet company and an international center for biological and medical research, besides many other social and educational initiatives.