At the age of 12, Severn Cullis-Suziki pleaded with adults at the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero.
To say Severn is an inspiration is hardly enough. When she was 9 she started the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO), a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. They were successful in many projects before 1992, when they raised enough money to go to the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Their aim was to remind the decision-makers of who their actions or inactions would ultimately affect. The goal was reached when 12-year old Severn closed a Plenary Session with a powerful speech that received a standing ovation.
Quotes from Severn’s speech worth noting:
Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market.
In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see.
I’m only a child yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong, in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same air, water and soil — borders and governments will never change that.
At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us to behave in the world. You teach us:
• not to fight with others,
• to work things out,
• to respect others,
• to clean up our mess,
• not to hurt other creatures
• to share – not be greedy.
Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?
Following in the footsteps of her father, Dr. David Suzuki, Severn leads by example and is passionate about encouraging young people to speak out.
Planet Earth is still in the same state today, and Severn is expecting her first child. She once again takes the floor in an emotional documentary explaining that although the situation is urgent, there is still time to make a change.
More about Severn Cullis-Suzuki.
Severn has done countless interviews, written many articles, and hosted a TV show for kids called Suzuki’s NatureQuest. ‘Lead by example’ was the message Cullis-Suzuki spread in the Powershift 2000 campaign when she and five friends cycled across Canada to raise awareness for clean air and action. At Yale University, where Cullis-Suzuki earned a bachelor of science, she co-founded an Internet-based think-tank called The Skyfish Project in 2002. Its aim was to find ways for people to live and work in line with their ideals.
Cullis-Suzuki regularly talks to schools, universities, businesses, and governmental conferences about the need for defining our values, acting with long-term vision, and our individual responsibility.
She lives on the Pacific Westcoast archipelago of Haida Gwaii with her husband and little boy where she studies the Haida language. She is a board member of the David Suzuki Foundation and the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society, a Spark for the Girls Action Foundation, and a Champion for WE CANada at the Earth Summit 2012 (www.earthsummit.ca). She hopes her pursuit of traditional and scientific knowledge and dedication to using her voice will help her promote a culture of diversity, sustainability and joy.
* Originally published on my blog, I Count for myEARTH.