A lot of people have heaped praise over Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg speech at the UN Climate Action Summit. But environmental summits have often witnessed inspiring speeches by young people. One of the most powerful speeches that garnered worldwide attention was that of 12-year-old Canadian activist Severn Cullis-Suzuki at Rio Summit 1992.
“We have come 5,000 miles to tell the UN and the world that you must change your ways. Coming up here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future. Losing my future is not like losing election, or few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for starving children and countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go. I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in our ozone, I am afraid to breathe the air because I don’t know what chemicals are in it,” said Severn, who started the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO) at the age of nine years.
“I am only a child and I don’t have all the solutions. But I want you to realise that neither do you. If you don’t know how to fix the environment, stop breaking it. In my life, I have dreamt to see jungles full of wild animals, birds, and butterflies. But now, I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see. Did you have to worry about these things when you were my age?” she asked.
She added, “My dad always says that 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. But I challenge you to please make your actions reflect your words.”