Ugandan activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Vanessa Nakate on Tuesday urged everyone—and she meant everyone—to help address the climate crisis that has disproportionately affected communities in the Global South, at the TIME CO2 Earth Awards in Manhattan, where she was one of the inaugural honorees.

“Awards are an important signal,” she said. “They are a recognition of essential work that is being done. But awards will not save those who are already losing their lives and livelihoods on the frontline of the climate crisis.”

The 26-year-old Kampala native, who was previously recognized by TIME100 Next in 2021, dedicated her latest honor to the millions of other climate justice activists around the world, and she doubled down on the power of mass movements to enact change.

“The United Nations Charter begins ‘We the Peoples…,’” she said. “It is the people who fill the streets and demand change. It is the people who face down authoritarian power. It is the people who will hold big oil and gas companies accountable.”

Read More: Vanessa Nakate’s Climate-Activism Advice

Nakate has said she was inspired by young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. In 2019, Nakate launched the Africa-based Rise Up Climate Movement, envisioned as an avenue for local climate activists. She also spearheaded a campaign to stop deforestation in Congo and was named as a Young Leader for Sustainable Development Goals at the U.N. in 2020. Her 2021 book, A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis, details the struggles of being heard as an activist from the continent.

Africa contributes only about 2-3% of global carbon emissions but extreme weather and climate change has caused food insecurity, population displacement, and water stresses in the continent.

“People living in vulnerable communities—particularly in the Global South—have done little if nothing to cause the climate crisis, and yet they are paying the ultimate price,” Nakate said at the TIME CO2 Earth Awards.

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