This year’s 10th Annual Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture will host two of the world’s most dynamic young voices for climate justice.

Greta Thunberg, 17, and Vanessa Nakate, 23, will become the youngest speakers in the Peace Lecture’s 10-year history, speaking on the topic, “Climate justice globally, now and for the future”.

At the age of 15, Thunberg began picketing outside Sweden’s parliament for stronger action against climate change. Her courage struck a chord with young people in other towns and countries and a schools climate strike movement known as Fridays for Future was born.

Meanwhile, in Uganda, Nakate felt that December 2018 was unusually hot. She asked an uncle if this was so, and he agreed, so Nakate decided to take action.

Vanessa Nakate. Picture: Instagram

She has founded two youth initiatives: Youth for Future Africa, and the Rise Up Movement.

Thunberg and Nakate follow a distinguished line-up of speakers to have graced the platform in the past, including the late Kofi Annan, Graça Machel and Mary Robinson. 

Last year’s lecturer was Zimbabwe-born global businessman and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa, who addressed the topic of corruption.

In a statement, the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said this is a subject that the archbishop holds dear to his heart.

In 2011, on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the archbishop said: “Our desire to consume everything of value, to extract every precious stone, every drop of oil and every creature from the sea, knows no bounds. This quest for profit subverts our present and our future. There are too many people who are getting better and better at exploiting the environmental heritage which belongs to us all. We are not heading for an environmental disaster – we have already created one.”

Greta Thunberg. Picture: Instagram

According to the foundation, Thunberg and Nakate have worked together before. Earlier this year they were members of a group of young activists who urged global leaders attending the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos to divest from fossil fuels. 

Archbishop Tutu endorsed the global campaign to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy in 2017, and the foundation was an early signatory.

Foundation CEO Piyushi Kotecha said it was fitting to have the opportunity to amplify the voices of two young female leaders, especially at this time of the coronavirus pandemic, whose origin is widely ascribed to burgeoning environmental degradation.

The event will take place virtually on October 7, 2020, Archbishop Tutu’s 89th birthday.

If you want to participate in the lecture register at