In 1992, Severn Cullis-Suzuki flew to the Rio Earth Summit with several other young women, with the money they raised, to address the delegation she probably knew would not make meaningful progress. Severn went on to lead a life of environmental leadership, serving on panels, founding think tank projects, and launching climate change and pollution awareness campaigns throughout Canada.

“Severn received a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University, and a Masters of Science in Ethnoecology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, where she studied with Kwakwaka’wakw elders on the Pacific Northwest coast. She has completed several speaking tours in Japan with the Namakemono Club and has published several books including Tell the World (1993) The Day You Will Change the World (2003), and—as editor—Notes from Canada’s Young Activists (2007). As a youth, Severn co-hosted the children’s television series Suzuki’s NatureQuest.”

Severn, and all youth leaders from the past, give the youth of Plant-for-the-Planet Washington the fuel they need to step up. Keeping the memory of their work alive helps us see from where we’ve come, and how far we have to go. A passionate plea from 27 years ago would ring just as clear today. Hopefully this new era will witness the people of the planet choosing to stand with our youth.

Severn, 20 years later: