COPENHAGEN – Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, Brazilian indigenous leader Raoni Metuktire and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed have dominated the lists in the lead up to the Nobel Peace Prize awards.
The prestigious award will be announced on Friday in Oslo.
A little over a year ago the Swedish teenager began a weekly school strike in front of her country’s parliament calling for stronger measures against climate change, an action that has given rise to the global movement “FridaysForFuture.”
Thunberg has been received by world leaders, attending the UN Climate Action Summit a few weeks ago and has become a world reference in the fight against climate change.
If Thunberg takes the prize, she would become the youngest winner in Nobel history, surpassing Pakistani Malala Yousafzai, who won the Peace Prize in 2014 at the age of 17.
The nominees include other names linked to the fight for the environment such as Raoni Metuktire, an emblematic figure against deforestation in the Amazon and a reference for the Kayapo people. He was also a finalist for the European Parliament’s 2019 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Efforts to enforce the Paris Agreement could award the prize to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
In opposition to an “environmental” Nobel, the criteria that Swedish magnate Alfred Nobel, its creator, once wrote will play a role in deciding who will take the prize for: “the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the promotion of peace congresses.”
But the Norwegian Nobel Committee has not always fully adjusted and has previously recognized the struggle for the environment, as it did with Kenyan Wangari Maathai (2004), Al Gore and Rajendra Pachauri (2007).
Another name highlighted in the pool is Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who promoted a peace agreement between his country and Eritrea.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), International Land Coalition (ILC) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) are also candidates in the betting houses as well as in Oslo.
The lists of candidates include former CIA analyst Edward Snowden and several Russian representatives such as Svetlana Ganushkina of the Memorial organization; the newspaper “Novaya Gazeta,” Sergei Kovaliov, Lilia Shibanova, Ludmila Alexeeva, the NGO Agora and Chechen lawyer Lidia Yusupova.
The Arctic Council, Lebanon’s Hajer Sharief, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Pope Francis, Saudi Raif Badawi and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have also appeared in the forecasts.
The lists are often nothing more than speculation, as only nominees can confirm their place, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee does not verify names and only publishes the total number of aspirants, which is 304 this year (219 individuals and the remaining are organizations).
It is known that among the nominees are the Macedonian and Greek prime ministers, Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras, for the agreement to settle the dispute between their countries; Spanish cook Jose Andres, for his humanitarian work in natural disasters and Saudis Loujain al-Hathloul, Abdullah al-Hamid and Nassima al-Sada.
Four Nobel Peace Laureates – Burmese Aung San Suu Kyi, Timorese Jose Ramos-Horta, South Korean Kim Dae-jung and Iranian Shirin Ebadi – had received years earlier the human rights prize from the Norwegian Rafto Foundation, which was awarded this year to Syrian-Lebanese economist Rouba Mhaissen.
Last year’s Nobel Peace Prize went to Congolese Denis Mukwege and Iraqi Nadia Murad, both of whom received awards for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and in armed conflicts.”
The Peace Prize is the only one of the six prizes awarded outside Sweden, in Oslo, at the request of Alfred Nobel, as Norway was part of the Swedish kingdom at the time.