Cork climate activist Saoi O’Connor (19) has been shortlisted in the 'Young Humanitarian of the Year' category of the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards 2021 taking place at the end of the month.
Saoi, who hails from Skibbereen, has a long history in activism, making their first media appearance aged three as part of a Fair Trade campaign on St Patrick’s Day.
Over the past four years, Saoi has committed to the fight to save the planet from the climate crisis every day.
They began the ‘Fridays for Future’ strike in Cork city on January 11, 2019, outside Cork City Hall.
Since then Saoi has organised global youth strikes; spoken all over the country; lobbied politicians; been published extensively in national media; and, most recently, at COP26 in Glasgow.
Saoi previously shared that activism has become their life.
“It’s quite difficult when you’re operating in an adult world.
“But if we don’t do it now we may not have a future," they said.
Saoi has been dubbed ‘the Irish Greta Thunberg’ and is now friends with the renowned Swedish environmental activist.
The Young Humanitarian award seeks to recognise the extraordinary contribution of a young person or group of people who dedicates their extracurricular hours to being a visionary young leader for humanitarian causes.
The prestigious annual Irish Red Cross Humanitarian honour nominated finalists across six categories and highlight the efforts of those who have given a voice to humanitarian issues.
The work of the Irish Red Cross in Ireland, which was established in 1939, helps the most vulnerable people in Irish society.
"It is important that we honour and recognise the crucial work that is being done by humanitarians and their ongoing contribution to Irish society, which serves as a powerful example to all of us," Pat Carey, Chair of the Irish Red Cross, commented ahead of the awards on November 28.
"These awards are the highest honour given by the Irish Red Cross, in recognition of those who have dedicated their lives to exceptional humanitarian endeavours."
The other finalists in the Young Humanitarian category are Harry Nolan of the Enniscorthy Defibrillator Initiative and Joshua Deegan, founder of Brighter Thoughts Ireland; with a special mention for 4-year-old Zoey Coffey.