Active Citizens for Sustainable Societies

What can we learn from climate activists?

Marina Martinez
6 min readMar 22, 2019


Students hold up signs at COP24, the United Nations conference on climate change (Photo: Imperial College London)

“Some people say that I should be in school instead [of going on strike]. Some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can ‘solve’ the climate crisis…[But] what is the point of learning facts in the school system, when the most important facts, given by the finest science of that same school system, clearly means nothing to our politicians and our society?” — Greta Thunberg, TEDxStockholm

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old from Sweden, decided to go on school strike due to her profound frustration with world leaders’ inaction on curbing climate change, which is a growing threat to human societies according to scientific studies. Since August 2018, she has been skipping school every Friday to go to the Swedish parliament remind politicians of their essential ‘homework’.

Greta Thunberg holding a placard that reads “School strike for the climate” in front of the Swedish parliament (Photo: Hanna Franzen/EPA)

Earlier this year, the teenager girl challenged government and business leaders at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, with a powerful message:

“Some people — some companies and some decision makers in particular — has known exactly what priceless values they are sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. I want to challenge those companies and those decision makers into real and bold climate action. To set their economic goals aside and to safeguard the future living conditions for human kind…For the sake of your children, for the sake of your grandchildren. For the sake of life and this beautiful living planet.” — Greta Thunberg, WEF

Climate Strikes: from schools to streets

Greta’s words and actions not only resulted in a Nobel Peace Prize nomination but have inspired a global movement known as Fridays for Future. A growing number of students across the world are striking from school on Fridays to call for climate action. Last week, on March 15th, over 1,5 million students took to the streets in 125 countries on all continents in a global day of #SchoolStrike4Climate, which was collectively organized by Thunberg and other climate activists via social media.



Marina Martinez

Global sustainability researcher. Writing about the controversial relationships among People, Nature, and Economy.