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Greta Thunberg, Fridays for Future Movement Win Amnesty Human Rights Award
Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and her Fridays for Future protest movement on Friday won an Amnesty International human rights award for their "unique leadership and courage in standing up for human rights."
Thunberg and the millions of school students she inspired to skip school and protest on Fridays won the Ambassador of Conscience Award, which has also been awarded to NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, singer Alicia Keys, as well as Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela.
Climate Change a "Blatant Injustice"
Thunberg said in a statement it was "a huge honor" to receive the prize on behalf of the movement, adding that "this is not my award, this is everyone's award."
"You have to fight for what you think is right. I think all those who are part of this movement are doing that," said Thunberg.
"The blatant injustice we all need to fight against is that people in the global south are the ones who are and will be most affected by climate change, while they are the least responsible for causing it," she added.
Last year, global carbon emissions hit a new record high despite a warning from a United Nations report in October that stated output of the gases will have to be cut drastically over the next 12 years to stabilize the climate.
Thunberg has addressed world leaders at a number of venues for failing young people by not doing enough to curb climate change.
The growing movement of young protesters demanding action on climate change was inspired by 16-year-old Thunberg after she started weekly solo demonstrations outside Sweden's parliament last year. The movement has since spread across Europe and the U.S., as well as to countries like Brazil, Uganda and Australia.
On May 24, a global Fridays for Future school strike was staged in 131 countries.
"We All Have a Role to Play"
"We are humbled and inspired by the determination with which youth activists across the world are challenging us all to confront the realities of the climate crisis," Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International's secretary general, said in a statement. "They remind us that we are more powerful than we know and that we all have a role to play in protecting human rights against climate catastrophe."
Amnesty founded the award in 2002 to honor people and groups that advance the cause of human rights. No date has yet been set for the award ceremony.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Deutsche Welle.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Will Sarni
It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.
The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future
We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.
"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.
One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.
Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.
Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.
These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.
We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).
We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.
We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.
Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.
Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.
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