You CAN Make A Difference: The Girl Who Silenced the World

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Whether2you are 10, 12, 15, 17, or any other age, you probably don’t think adults are going to listen to you. Maybe you have a cause you are passionate about, but you don’t think anyone will listen to what a kid or teen will have to say. You’re wrong! You may be young, you may not have all the answers, but you are truly never too young to make a difference in this world. Take for instance a young girl, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, who was able to speak to the entire United Nations Assembly when it met in Brazil several years ago. At that point in time, she was only twelve years old, and what she would say there in front of leaders from all over the world, would silence the entire world and make them think.

At the age of twelve, Severn had raised the money needed to travel to Brazil to attend the UN Assembly. Canada was about 5,000 miles from home for her – a long distance for a 12 year old to travel and it was a lot of money for a 12 year old to raise, but she did it. She was convinced that she had something worth saying that the leaders of the United Nations needed to hear, and she was determined to use her words in a powerful way.


In her speech to this delegation, she addressed a variety of different issues (SEE the video of her speech at the end of this article). She spoke on pollution, the extinction of animals, ozone layer depletion, forest devastation, starving children, and more. These were big issues, but she wasn’t afraid to tackle them. She admitted she didn’t know the answers or how to fix these problems herself, but she wanted to challenge world leaders to start finding the answers and to stop causing the problems.

Another topic that Severn addressed was the topic of sharing. She spoke of the great number of children who go without food and clothing on a daily basis, yet so many people have more than enough – even to the point of throwing away items that are still usable. Instead of sharing with others, people hold onto the wealth that they have, even when they could help others around the world. As a child, she said she was taught to clean up after herself, to be kind to others, to share, and to take care of what she had. Yet, she felt that adults didn’t do these very things that they were teaching their children. Severn wondered why adults didn’t clean up after themselves, why they didn’t take care of what they had, and why they didn’t share and help others. Definitely great questions to be asking!


Believe it or not, this speech was given many years ago – back in 1992. While the speech was definitely relevant then, it’s still relevant today as well. Many of these issues are now being addressed and greater attention has been brought to these issues. Some of those leaders at the UN Assembly may not have paid much attention to anyone else, but a young girl was able to stop and make them think. Many of the delegates there were moved to tears by her words, and at the end of her speech, she was given a standing ovation. All around the world, her speech was heard, and more than 15 years later, people are still listening to her speech. This was one girl that decided that she could make a difference – and she did.

Even after her speech, she didn’t stop working to make a difference in her world. She felt that while speaking to leaders was important, “becoming the change” was even more important if things were going to be accomplished. Over the past few years as she grew up and reached adulthood, she has continued to champion the changes that she spoke so passionately about in 1992. She founded that Environmental Children’s Organization when she was only nine, she’s co-hosted a children’s TV series known as Suzuki’s Nature Quest, and was instrumental in the think tank based on the web – The Skyfish Project. She is a speaker, author, and environmental activist who speaks all over the world today, urging those she speaks to, to act on the issues addressed to help preserve the future.

Her words in 1992 definitely silenced the entire world. Although she admitted to Time magazine that she was discouraged that more action wasn’t taken by the UN she addressed, she never gave up. While her confidence was a bit shaken because her speech didn’t bring about more results, she didn’t let it stop her. As a child, and now as an adult, she has continued to use her voice to make a difference in this world, determined that change will come.


It truly doesn’t matter how old you are – you can make a difference in your world today. There is never an age when you are too young to make a difference in some way. If you have a cause or idea you are passionate about, don’t think you are too young to do anything about it. Follow after the courage of Severn and find a way that you can make a difference. Perhaps you too will be able to silence the world.


Severn Cullis-Suzuki – The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes

Severn Cullis-Suzuki returns to Rio 20 years later

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