At just 12 years old, Severn Cullis-Suzuki gained international attention when she delivered her famous speech at the Rio Earth Summit, pleading for the delegates to preserve the planet. Since then, Severn has gone on to speak to audiences around the world about the necessity of redefining our values and acting with the future in mind when it comes to environmental sustainability.
In 2000, Severn cycled across Canada in a campaign to raise awareness about climate change and air pollution. In 2001, along with others, she developed The Skyfish Project, a youth think-tank that presented at the 2002 United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development. The presentation (and the journey to making it) was the subject of a documentary film that aired CBC’s The Nature of Things.
Severn has published several books including The Day You Will Change the World, and is one of the authors and editors of the book Notes from Canada’s Young Activists. As a youth, Severn co-hosted a TV series in North America for children called Suzuki’s NatureQuest, and currently hosts the APTN series Samaqan Water Stories about First Nations and water issues. She is also a board member for the David Suzuki Foundation and the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society, a “spark” for the Girls Action Foundation, and was a champion for WE CANada at the Earth Summit 2012.
Severn received a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University, and a Master’s of Science in Ethnoecology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, where she studied with Kwakwaka’wakw elders on the Pacific Northwest coast.
For presenting her speech in Rio, Severn received the UN Environment Program’s Global 500 Award.