Suzuki Speach UN Rio 1992

A speech given by 12 year old Severn Suzuki at the Earth Summit in Rio on June 11, 1992,
before the plenary session delegates of U.N.C.E.D.,
The United Nations Conference on Enviroment and Development.

Hello, I'm Severn Suzuki speaking for the E.C.O. - the Enviromental Children's Organization. We are a group of four 12 and 13 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 5000 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 of the stock market.

I am here to speak for all generations yet 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 can't afford not to be 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 everyday - 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 things when you were in 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 realize, neither do you!
     - you don't know how to fix the holes in the 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 the forests that once grew where there is now desert.
If you don't know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!
 
Here, you may be delegates of your governments, business organizers, reporters or politicians - but really you are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, - and all of you are somebody's child.

I'm only a child, yet I know we are all part of a family, 5 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. I'm only a child yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal.

In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid to tell the world how I feel. In my country, we make so much wast, we buy and throw away, buy and throw away, and yet northern countries will not share with the needy. Even when we have more than enough we are afraid to lose some of our wealth, afraid to share. In Canada, we live the priviledged life, with plenty of food, water and shelter - we have watches, bicycles, computers, and television sets.

Two days ago here in Brazil, we were shocked when we spent time with some children living on the streets. And this is what one child told us: "I wish I was rich and if I where, I would give all the street children food, clothes, medicine, shelter, and love and affection. " If a child on the street who has nothing is willing to share, why are we who have everything still so greedy?

I can't stop thinking that these children are my age; that it makes a tremendous difference where you are born; that I could be one of those children living in the favelas of Rio; I could be a child starving in Somalia, a victim of war in the middle East, or a begger in India.

I'm only a child yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding enviromental answers, what a wonderful place this Earth would be! 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 to 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 a world we will grow up in. Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying "everything'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 dad 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 challange you, please, make your actions reflect your words.
Thank you for listening.
 
The Enviromental Children's Organization
2477 Point Grey Road,
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V6K1A1
 
Severn Suzuki
Vanessa Suttie
Morgan Geisler

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