17-year-old tells world leaders to act on climate change

Updated
By Sam Go

If you could tell world leaders to act on poverty and climate change, what would you say?

Brittany Trilford, a 17-year-old New Zealander, was given one such opportunity Wednesday, when she addressed over 100 heads of state at the Rio+20.

She gave a stirring plea, demanding action and asking world leaders, “Are you here to save face? Or are you here to save us?”

 

We, the next generation, demand change. We demand action so that we have a future and have it guaranteed. We trust that you will, in the next 72 hours, put our interests ahead of all other interests and boldly do the right thing. Please, lead. I want leaders who lead.

I am here to fight for my future. That is why I’m here. I would like to end by asking you to consider why you’re here and what you can do. Are you here to save face? Or are you here to save us?

Trilford won the Date With History competition, which invited young people to record themselves giving a speech about the future they wanted. She didn’t learn until later that she would have a chance to speak at the summit.

Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, kicked off in Brazil Wednesday. The three-day event brings together heads of states, business leaders, NGOs, and the private sector to try to eradicate poverty, world hunger and climate change. The event is called Rio+20 in honor of the landmark Earth Summit in the city two decades ago. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is representing the US.

Already there is a “cloud of criticism” that the summit is falling far short in establishing clear goals.  Expectations have been low for the gathering, as many world leaders are currently more focused on the global economic slowdown and the debt crisis in Europe.

17-year-old tells world leaders to act on climate change

Updated