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Greta Thunberg, front-runner for Nobel Peace Prize
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Greta Thunberg, front-runner for Nobel Peace Prize

Agency News

The Nobel committee in Oslo, Norway will announce the winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday at 11am (0900 GMT) at the Nobel Institute in Oslo and the name of the climate activist Greta Thunberg is getting circulated as the front runner for the prize.

The prize is awarded annually to the person or organization that has done the most to promote world peace. Greta Thunberg is the clear favorite to win the Nobel Peace Prize this year, according to the trending on social media. Online betting sites like Ladbrokes now put her as favourite to win what is perhaps the world's most prestigious prize.

Thunberg, who featured on a recent cover of TIME magazine, has become famous for her speeches and protests over climate inaction. At 15 years old, she began her school strike outside the Swedish Parliament in August 2018. Little more than a year later, an estimated four million people joined the teenager in a global strike on September 20 with activists, many of them schoolchildren, joining the protests from Thailand to Afghanistan to Haiti. She made global headlines in late September when she lambasted world leaders at the UN climate summit in New York. "How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words," she told them, holding back tears.

However, some conservatives, despite her achievements, have expressed doubt over Thunberg and suggested that her win would be controversial. Some others see her courage and drive to hold world leaders to account as confrontational, divisive and unhelpful.

This year, there are 301 nominees for this year’s prize, out of which 223 are individuals and 78 are organizations, according to the Nobel Institute. The official list of nominations remains a secret, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of speculation about who is in the running. Predicting the winner is always a challenge since the Norwegian Nobel Committee never reveals the names of the nominees.

The 16-year-old has already received Amnesty International's top honour and the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes dubbed the "alternative Nobel". In an interview with Swiss broadcaster RTS in August, Thunberg stressed that while the award would be "a recognition for this movement," she and her supporters weren't "doing this to get awards and prizes."

Henrik Urdal, director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (Prio), told AFP, said that her tender age could make the prize more of a burden than a reward. "The only way I could see that happen is that she would be part of a shared prize like Malala," Urdal said, referring to Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who shared the 2014 prize -- at age 17 -- with Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.

Norwegian historian Asle Sveen echoed that view. But Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), believes Thunberg should be considered a "serious candidate" and that climate change is linked to conflict.