The 16-year-old was recognised “for inspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts”.
She shares this year’s award with Davi Kopenawa, a Brazilian indigenous leader, who has fought to protect the Amazon rainforest, Guo Jianmei, a Chinese women’s rights lawyer and Aminatou Haidar, a Western Sahara human rights defender.
“With the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, we honour four practical visionaries whose leadership has empowered millions of people to defend their inalienable rights and to strive for a liveable future for all on planet Earth,” a foundation spokesperson said.
Each winner will receive one million Swedish crowns (£82,700).
“This is all wrong,” she began. “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean.
“Yet, you all come to us young people for hope? How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
The climate activist added: “People are suffering. People are dying.
“And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.”
Ms Thunberg gained global attention after beginning a solitary climate protest outside the Swedish parliament a year ago.
She has inspired activists around the world, especially youngsters, to protest against the failure of governments to combat climate change.
On Friday, millions of young people took to the streets to demand that leaders attending the summit take emergency action on the issue.
Ms Thunberg has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Swedish and Norwegian lawmakers.
Additional reporting by agencies
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