It was the year 1992 and Severn Suzuki was a 12 year old kid. She raised money with the members of the Environmental Children’s organization (ECO) and attended the United Nation’s Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro. She gave a six minutes speech there which received a standing ovation from the delegates of the various countries. According to her, a few of them cried too. Her speech was nothing less than a one tight slap on the face of all the “Adults” who think that spending money on War related activities and developing new weapons is more important than spending it to remove poverty and illiteracy and on environmental Issues. Her speech was hard hitting but whether it lead to some action or not was something Severn herself wrote 10 years later in a Special Report in the TIME called “The young can’t wait”. An excerpt –
I spoke for six minutes and received a standing ovation. Some of the delegates even cried. I thought that maybe I had reached some of them, that my speech might actually spur action. Now, a decade from Rio, after I’ve sat through many more conferences, I’m not sure what has been accomplished. My confidence in the people in power and in the power of an individual’s voice to reach them has been deeply shaken.
You can read the full report here.
This is the video of the speech. Don’t miss the expressions on the faces of the delegates.
You can read her speech here.
Since her bold foray in the UN Summit, Severn has been an active environmental activist, speaker, television host and an author. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Ethnoecology.
(The photograph is taken from Wikipedia)