The Fritt Ord Prize 2019
Nature and Youth and Greta Thunberg

The Fritt Ord Foundation Prize for 2019 is awarded to Nature and Youth and to Greta Thunberg for their contributions to making the climate and environmental debate action-oriented and mobilising.

“Nature and Youth and Greta Thunberg are making invaluable contributions to the most important debate of our time by insisting that it is not primarily more knowledge and better analyses that are needed at this point, but rather action and initiatives”, remarks Grete Brochmann, Chair of the Fritt Ord Board.

“They are doing this by means that are both professional and engaging: Nature and Youth has been mobilising over a long period of time on individual issues, most recently, the school strikes, while Greta Thunberg has carved out a platform as an individual, achieving a global breakthrough very quickly”, continues Brochmann.

The Fritt Ord Foundation Prize recognises freedom of expression. At present, it is uncommonly difficult to participate in the debate on climate and the environment because activists encounter resistance of many kinds: Resistance against accepting knowledge and research, resistance on the part of politicians who have no desire to implement effective change, resistance from business interests, and resistance in the form of mud-slinging, harassment and ridicule in social media and online debates.

The prize laureates

Nature and Youth is the largest environmental organisation for young people in Norway today, with 7500 members in 70 local branches. For more than 50 years, Nature and Youth has worked locally, nationally and globally to draw attention to climate problems and solutions alike. In March, the organisation coordinated the Norwegian school strikes, in which 40 000 pupils participated. Nature and Youth has played an important role in respect of a number of the major environmental issues in Norway, e.g. industrial waste, gas-fired power plants, air traffic, and oil exploration off the coast of Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja.

Last August, Greta Thunberg (16) of Sweden initiated a school strike in front of the Swedish Parliament, calling for an effective climate policy. After the Swedish elections, she continued to strike every Friday. By New Year’s, the school strikes had spread to hundreds of cities globally. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, on Friday, 15 March this year, 1.6 million pupils all over the world took part in strikes to call for climate action and initiatives to combat the climate and environmental crisis. This was one of the largest climate demonstrations ever.