As 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg makes her way across North America, the United Nations has offered Fridays for Future — the international, student-led weekly strikes she helped organize — an award the group has turned down.
Kallan Benson, 14, of Crownsville, Maryland, is the coordinator for Thunberg’s Fridays for Future USA. In a speech, Benson explained why the group could not accept the UN’s Champions of The Earth Award, which was created in 2005 to recognize environmental leaders.
“Awards are for celebrating achievement but the achievement we seek has not occurred,” Benson said. “The world is in climate crisis and actions of the United Nations are failing to stop it. … We understand the Champions of the Earth award is a great honor. But we cannot accept it. Instead we offer to hold it for you to earn. You at the United Nations hold the power. You at the United Nations hold the power to save humanity from itself. You must act in time to become the real Champions of the Earth. Then we will all have an achievement worth celebrating far into the future. Every Friday we invite all people of conscience to climate strike.”