By Damian Wilson*
Everyone loves award season. You have the glam of the BAFTAS, the glitz of the Oscars, the brawn of the Super Bowl, and even the unseemly fight to be the most woke nominee sponsor for the Nobel Peace Prize.
So, we have teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg, who it has to be said, through no fault of her own, is up for the big Nobel Prize for the second year running, having been presented as deserving of victory by two MPs from her native Sweden.
When skimming through the nomination papers, what part of Nobel PEACE Prize did Jens Holm and Hakan Svenneling, of Sweden’s Left Party fail to understand?
They issued a statement which said that the 17-year-old “has worked hard to make politicians open their eyes to the climate crisis” and “action for reducing our emissions and complying with the Paris Agreement is therefore also an act of making peace.”
Unfortunately, their emissions were seemingly undeterred by the ruling from the Nobel organization last time Greta was nominated, which was just last year. While the lists of nominees for Nobel prizes are top secret, Henrik Urdal, head of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, omitted the then 16-year-old Thunberg from the Nobel Peace Prize shortlist he publishes on the grounds that there was no proof of a clear linear relationship between climate change, or the associated impact of scant resources, and armed conflict.
Sure, they often live in the same neighborhood but not one directly causing the other.
So Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali was given the gong. The sort of generational African leader who makes a real difference to millions of his own people through personal sacrifice and sheer bravery where previously, there had been nothing but failure. Hats off.
But Greta’s exclusion is not a clear-cut decision, for while the other Nobel prizes — literature, physics, chemistry, economic sciences and physiology or medicine — are rarely controversial, the award winners of the peace gong have often been contentious.
Most laughable was the nod to Barack Obama in 2009, the US president who, despite expectations that he would be a pacifist leader, ended his two terms with more American troops abroad than when he first came to office.
Then there is Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 peace prize winner and Myanmar leader, most recently seen at the International Court of Justice defending her military against claims of genocide.
When they run out of peaceable types, the Nobel committee opts for an institution, and while this safety net has the benefit of including a number of individuals in its scope, the award to the European Union in 2012 was, I’m pretty sure, not quite what Alfred Nobel had in mind.
Ali, who won the peace gong “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea,” is exactly the kind of guy who should be snagging these honors.
He made peace out of war, and that is tricky.
Just look at those nations which need just such a character so badly: Libya, Yemen, Venezuela, the Central African Republic, the DRC, all not too far away from Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Maybe, instead of trying to be as woke as the Bafta red carpet, the Nobel organization could look to those regions for inspirational figures who have made or who might make a real difference to be nominated, shortlisted and, hell, maybe even win.
Then, the coveted award would be seen as an internationally recognized award for great work, or even as encouragement for those struggling to stay on track. It can and it does work.
But no, here we have a couple of Swedish MPs pushing their golden child forward, while she still is a novelty act, as the grumpy face of child activism, in an ill-considered woke act of recognition.
For these adults to use a 17-year-old in some poorly-judged political stunt to enhance their own climate change credentials over and above those individuals who make a massive impact on world peace, is ill-considered.
Sure, give Greta the recognition she deserves for highlighting climate issues and engaging her audiences in her campaign.
But the Nobel Prize for Peace? Seems wrong.
*Damian Wilson is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.