“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities,“The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit, took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 2-14, 1992”
in the expert’s mind there are few.”
Severn Cullis-Suzuki, now in her early 30's, started the Environmental Children's Organization (ECO) when she was only 9-years-old. ECO was a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. In 1992 Cullis-Suzuki and three Vancouver schoolmates raised their own money to attended the UN's Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. A then 12-year-old Severn closed a Plenary Session with an amazing speech that received a standing ovation.
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Rio Earth Summit. “I am only a child,” I told them. “Yet I know that if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this would be. In school 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? You grownups say you love us, but I challenge you, please, to make your actions reflect your words.”
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. (...)
I know change is possible, because I am changing, still figuring out what I think. I am still deciding how to live my life. The challenges are great, but if we accept individual responsibility and make sustainable choices, we will rise to the challenges, and we will become part of the positive tide of change.”
Cullis-Suzuki, 2002 in TIME magazine
Severn Cullis-Suzuki (born November 30, 1979 in Vancouver, Canada) is an environmental activist, speaker, television host and author. Born to writer Tara Elizabeth Cullis and geneticist and environmental activist David Suzuki, she has spoken around the world about environmental issues, urging listeners to define their values, act with the future in mind, and take individual responsibility.
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