It was 17 years ago. This 12 years old girl , Severn Suzuki, made a stunning speech at Earth Summit which attended by environmental ministers from all over the world in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. She spoke for ECO – The Environmental Children’s Organization – a group of twelve and thirteen years old.
Amazing, while i was playing soccer and getting addicted to TV shows, this girl kicked some ass at the Summit. Even after 17 years, this speech is still relevant with environmental problems nowadays. She was able to increase global awareness about such problems. So, here is the excerpt and the video:
“Hello, I’m Severn Suzuki speaking for E.C.O. – The Environmental Children’s Organisation. We are a group of twelve and thirteen-year-olds from Canada trying to make a difference: Vanessa Suttie, Morgan Geisler, Michelle Quigg and me. We raised all the money ourselves to come five thousand miles to tell you adults you must change your ways. Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future. Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come.
I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard.
I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go. We cannot afford to be not heard.
I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don’t know what chemicals are in it.
I used to go fishing in Vancouver with my dad until just a few years ago we found the fish full of cancers. And now we hear about animals and plants going extinct every day vanishing forever.
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.
Did you have to worry about these little things when you were my age?
All this is happening before our eyes and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions. I’m only a child and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to realise, neither do you! You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. You don’t know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream. You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct. And you can’t bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert. If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!
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?
Do not forget why you’re attending these conferences, who you’re doing this for “” we are your own children. You are deciding what kind of world we will grow up in. Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying “everything going to be alright” , “we’re doing the best we can” and “it’s not the end of the world”.
But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities? My father always says “You are what you do, not what you say.”
Well, what you do makes me cry at night. You grown ups say you love us. I challenge you, please make your actions reflect your words. Thank you.
Seventeen years has passed and Suzuki speech is still relevant with current situation. Now i’m working for fertilizer company, environmental section. Everyday, I have been trying to raise environment awareness. Then I realized that I am lagging in term of environmental protection. I’m left behind. When everyone is making an action plan, I’m still raising awareness. Raising awareness is easy, because everyone wants to be involved in “green movement”.
Now, green has become new kind of lifestyle. Here and there we can see “green” movement, but somehow along the way the major purpose has gotten lost. Green movement is not about music concerts, is not about gaining political influence, is not about marketing strategy. Green has became a license to feel good without doing something good, as Thomas Friedman a NY Times columnist said. Green movement is about how we respond to a great challenge to preserve our natural world. It is a survival strategy. And to face it, we have to stop doing easy thing like organizing “go green” music concert and choose the road less-traveled.
We should be ashamed. Seventen years ago, a twelve years old girl did something. She raised money and gave a speech in front of policy makers. Now, the best thing we can do is running “go green” music concert. I’m sure that everybody knows the “1000 ways to save the earth”, but when it comes to real action, rarely we see a hero. Suzuki speech has become a reminder of what green movement is all about “You are what you do, not what you say.”