Seventeen-year-old Brittany Trilford, a student from Wellington, New Zealand, addressed Heads of State gathered in Rio de Janeiro at the opening of the Summit UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has called “one of the most important conferences in the history of the United Nations and a once-in-a-generation opportunity to gear the world on sustainable development path.”
With the world’s attention focused on global recession, conflict in Syria, and elections, no one is happy with the summit’s progress thus far. And Brittany set the tone, opening her address.
“My name is Brittany Trilford. I am seventeen years old, a child. Today, in this moment, I am all children, your children, the world’s three billion children. Think of me for these short minutes as alf the world.
I stand here with fire in my heart. I’m confused and angry at the state of the world. We are here to solve the problems that we have caused as a collective, to ensure that we have a future.”
She gave leaders an ultimatum that was echoed throughout by representatives from all of the following civil society speakers.
“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.
You have 72 hours to decide the fate of your children, my children, my children’s children. And I start the clock now… tck tck tck.”
Read the full text of Brittany Trilford’s speech here.
About the authorJoshua Wiese
Joshua Wiese is Adopt a Negotiator’s Project Director. He is based in San Francisco, where he spends most of his time thinking about how to use technology to make the world a better place.