Amnesty International’s top honour goes to NZ youth climate groups



AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL is awarding three New Zealand climate youth groups with its Ambassador of Conscience award, its highest recognition for human rights work, previously given to the likes of Nelson Mandela, Ai Weiwei and Malala Yousafzai.

Fridays for Future leaders around the world will receive the 2019 award today on behalf of the movement (that has mobilised more than one million young people) with the first being given to Greta Thunberg in Washington DC (7pm September 16th New York time, 11am September 17th New Zealand time).

Climate and human rights organisations will gather at the Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand offices in Auckland this evening to celebrate the local expression of the award being given to youth climate leaders in our region, many of whom are fighting at the forefront of climate change. Recipients include representatives from 350 Pacific Climate WarriorsTe Ara Whatu and School Strike 4 Climate for their work on the Fridays for Future movement and their ongoing efforts to raise awareness of climate change solutions. The award recognises people who have shown unique leadership and courage in standing up for human rights – people who have acted on their conscience and used their talents to inspire others.

Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand Advocacy and Policy Manager Annaliese Johnston says the New Zealand groups have been pivotal to the increase in awareness on climate change and its impacts.

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The impacts of climate change are already hindering rights to health, food, water, housing, work and even life itself. The youth of today in New Zealand know this, they know the indisputable science, and have woken us all up to the urgent call to action to protect our common home and future.

She adds youth in New Zealand have a special role to play.

Te Ara WhatuSchool Strike 4 Climate and 350 Pacific Climate Warriors are amazing examples of youth leaders and indigenous rangatahi in the local climate justice movement. They continue to mobilise and act with tenacity and clarity. They remind us of what it means to be a community that will fight for a better future in our Pacific neighbourhood. These awards today are in honour of their activism and leadership on climate change.”

Members from the awarded organisations were in attendance along with Hui E! Community Aotearoa, Ngā Tirairaka o Ngāti Hine, OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council, New Zealand Youth Leadership Institute, Coal Action Network, The Environment and Conservation Organisation, Forest and Bird, Generation Zero, Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand, the P3 Foundation, the New Zealand Human Rights Lawyers Association, Greenpeace New Zealand, Oxfam New Zealand, Sustainable Initiatives Aotearoa, the Sustainability Council of New Zealand, The New Zealand Climate Action Network and the WWF.

The awards ceremony will be followed by the Global Week of Climate Action that includes: The Peoples’ Summit on Climate, Rights and Human Survival in New York on the 18th and 19th of September (all major human rights and environment Non-Governmental Organisations will attend), the Climate Action Summit 2019 in New York on the 24th September, and finally the School Strike for Climate / Fridays for Future march here, and globally, on September 27th.