Defender of the Week #5: Greta Thunberg

“I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic, and act as if the house was on fire.”

– Greta Thunberg

‘Defender of the Week’ places the spotlight on individuals who have been tireless in their advocacy for human rights and the environment. This week 16-year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg, is Defender of the Week.

With her recent arrival to Lisbon today after 3 weeks at sea, the young Swedish teen is getting more publicity than ever. So, just who is Greta?

Ms Thunberg unintentionally sparked a global climate activism movement in August 2018 when she sat outside Swedish parliament with a simple black and white sign that read “School Strike for Climate.” By December 2018, her #FridaysForFuture school strike for climate movement had more than 20,000 students involved around the world.

Greta travelled around to some of the strikes in Europe by train, rather than plane, to limit her environmental impact.

In April 2019, Greta spoke at the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, stating “for way too long, the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything. We will make sure that politicians will not get away with it for any longer.”

Then in September, Greta took a two-week zero-emissions boat journey to New York to speak at the UN Climate Conference. This coincided in a global climate strike which involved millions of people worldwide.

She became notorious for her heart-wrenching speech at this Conference, where she blasted the world’s politicians, saying “how dare you … I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope … You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. We will be watching you.”

Despite politicians like US President, Donald Trump, belittling her efforts and referring to her as “a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,” Greta has continued her push for a better future for the next generation.

Greta’s acts have inspired millions across the globe to strike for our ailing planet, which is why she is so deserving of the Defender of the Week!

Phoebe Egoroff

Founder and of Jurist International, a website focusing on the latest developments in international human rights and criminal law.

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