I left yesterday to attend the Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development. The theme of the event is “The Future We Want,” and the aim of the conference is to produce a focused political document detailing how this future will be achieved. Attendees will work to develop strategies that solve today’s issues without compromising the needs and abilities of future generations. The conference will address how a green economy will aid in sustainability and enhance developments towards the eradication of poverty. I am so excited to be here among thousands of participants including governments, NGOs and other stakeholders from all over the world, each working to provide a healthy and sustainable world for our children.
The conference will convene this month on the 20th anniversary of the first Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992. It was there that 12-year-old Severn Suzuki gave a speech that touched millions of people and spoke for her generation. She spoke powerfully to delegates of 178 nations and challenged us all to turn our words into actions. She was right – we must lead by example. We can’t expect our children to respect others, share, and work things out if we continue to use war to resolve our disputes. Severn’s words were compelling, and even 20 years later watching her speech still brings tears to my eyes. I have a special place in my heart for helping kids, and words cannot describe the inspiration I find from watching children help children.
Severn Suzuki is now 32 years old, married, and has a child of her own. Twenty years later Severn will join the conversation again, and it’s a shame we will still be discussing the same sustainability issues she challenged us to solve in 1992. I am really looking forward to hearing what she has to say now, and I’m curious to see if there will be a new Severn in today’s youth. Kids have such a strong and passionate voice, and I only hope that this time, the delegates will listen. You can do your part by taking action to provide a more sustainable world for our children.