Below is an exerpt from a speech that Severn Suzuki (now Cullis-Suzuki) gave to the Plenary Session at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Severn was 12 years old. At age 9, she formed ECO, the Environmental Children’s Organization. Born in 1979 (3 years younger than me), she must now be 30. It’s strange to think that, 17 years on, even a speech as powerful as this did not change the hearts and minds of world leaders.

“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 “everyting’s 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 for listening.”

*Severn Suzuki (now Cullis-Suzuki)

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