Menko: If you could repeat your speech today, what audience would you choose to make the largest impact?
Severn Cullis-Suzuki: Oh, that’s an interesting question. Twenty years ago, I was twelve and I spoke to the UN, and that was an incredible opportunity. That speech, it went to those countries’ representatives, it went all over the world. Now, twenty years later, twenty-one years later, we live in a different world. The power of that speech today is not necessarily that the delegates there were representing the world. The power is in the fact that it was filmed. I didn’t know it was filmed at the time, but it was filmed and they did a very good job, and later the UN sent me that video, a VHS copy. And then somehow it ended up on the internet.
And now the power of that speech besides the words is the story and the fact that it was filmed and went around the world. The story is of a child speaking truth to power. The story is that a young person could directly address those who were in charge. But the vehicle really had been the internet, and the fact that information and communication is now democratized. So, the audience today is more of a global audience, is more of a citizens’ audience and I don’t think I would change anything because the way that that came to be, the second audience of my speech, is really happened on its own and is a result of technological advance.
Anne: So you already achieved it actually.
Severn Cullis-Suzuki: Yes, yeah. Without doing anything. And, as I say, now I look back and I look at the speech that I made at the first Rio conference and I really see it almost as separate as me, and something to learn from, and I see that the story of it and the story of a child speaking truth to power… There’s something there, that I think we can really learn from and I think it totally shows the significance of young people speaking out.