Before There Was Greta, There Was Severn “The Girl Who Silenced the World for Five Minutes” (Video)

It often takes the unjaded, anything’s possible perspective and common sense of youth to give us some fundamental realness. These days, Swiss teen Greta Thunberg is lighting up the world with her bold yet simply truthful speeches that seem to ‘check’ society and address how our politics, policies, and consumer decisions tend to ignore our greater impact.

However, a few decades before Greta, there was twelve-year-old Severn Cullis-Suzuki, also known as “the girl who silenced the world for five minutes”. In 1992 she traveled from Canada to Rio to address the UN’s Earth Summit (video below) and drop truth bombs such as:

“Even though we have more than enough, we are afraid to share… We are afraid to let go…”

“If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it.”

“At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us how to behave in the world. You teach us to 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 be greedy. Then, why do you go out and do — do the things you tell us not to do?”

“Do not forget why you are attending these conferences — who you’re doing this for. We are your own children. You are deciding what kind of a world we are growing up in.”

And for the crescendo…

“I’m only a child, yet I know we are all part of a family — five billion strong; in fact 30 million species strong —  and 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.”

“I am only a child, yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on finding environmental answers, ending poverty, and finding treaties – what a wonderful place this world will be.”


So, in the near 28 years between these speeches, has anything changed? What has gotten better? What got worse?

The seed of this is in our consumerism and in the markets that promote a trend season throw-away culture, and the absurdity of trillions of tons of foods and products that go to waste after often grandiose production cycles. How and where we spend our money influences industry and production. Within our spending decisions, we steer the entire game. The rest lies in innovation – in the possibilities of this age of collaboration, and in the courage to push solutions through curtains of industry resistance.

Severn, today.




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