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Kids Changing the World

The Legendary Speech

The Legendary Speech

Severn Cullis-Suzuki speaking at the University of Alberta in 2006

Photo by Nick Wiebe. Some rights reserved

Almost 20 years ago, a young girl gave an inspirational speech that astounded adults all around the world. That girl's name is Severn Cullis-Suzuki. Severn was born in Vancouver, Canada, and at the time she gave her speech she was just 12 years old.

In June 1992, an international meeting called the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Presidents, prime ministers, and leaders of companies and civil society organizations from over 100 nations across the globe gathered at the Earth Summit to talk about how they should protect the natural environment.

Severn also attended the Earth Summit, after traveling 6,000 miles from Canada to Brazil with her friends in the Environmental Children's Organization (ECO) to tell adults to stop their habit of destroying the environment.

This is what she said to all the adults around the world: "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!"

The speech was just six minutes long, but it gripped the hearts of everyone who was in the meeting. It is said that when Severn finished talking, people were so moved that they rose to their feet in applause.

Severn's speech later came to be called "the legendary speech" and is now commonly known even among people who never went to the Earth Summit. You can watch the legendary speech on the internet. Please tell us what you think!

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