A school pupil from Wellington, New Zealand has been selected as winner of a global youth speech contest, to ‘speak truth to power’ and to inspire urgent action from world leaders and decision-makers gathering at the Rio+20 Earth Summit next month.
Seventeen-year-old Brittany Trilford, in her final year at school, has won the global “Date With History” youth video speech contest. The contest was open to young people from all walks of life around the world aged 13-30, to demand action on sustainability by leaders and decision-makers. Entries from every corner of the planet were voted on by the online public to elicit regional finalists through the contest website. More than 83,000 views and votes ended with 22 finalists.
Of the contest outcome, Christiana Figueres Executive Secretary of UNFCCC commented,
“Hundreds recorded moving speeches, tens of thousands voted. I am deeply encouraged to see that leaders of my era will be replaced in future by these true global citizens. Brittany now has the responsibility to represent all who stand with her with a vision for a brighter future. She can inspire decision makers in Rio who can make a difference now to ensure a better world becomes reality.”
Kelly Rigg, Executive Director of Global Campaign for Climate Action, organizers of the contest says
“With youth accounting for 3 billion of the world’s population, it is critical that young people from all walks of life are engaged in influencing global decision-making on sustainability now – they will live with the building blocks or the broken promises, depending on the choices leaders make.”
Speaking the truth on the world stage
Only one entry from the contest wins the opportunity to go to the UN Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Brittany Trilford’s speech was selected from the finalist gallery by a diverse jury which included more than a dozen respected youth leaders from around the world, Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke, UN Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth, actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, actor and activist Hayden Panettiere, UNEP Goodwill Ambassador and actor Don Cheadle, former Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva, Brazilian actor and activist Sergio Marone, Carbon War Room President Jose Maria Figures, Christiana Figueres, and Dr Kandeh K. Yumkella, Director-General UN Industrial Development Organisation and Co-Chair Secretary-General’s High Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All.
Dr Kandeh Yumkella said of his involvement in the contest jury,
“Accounting for more than half of the world’s population, young people must take a leading role in forging tomorrow’s world, the one they will lead. ‘Date With History’ his given a unique platform for effective collaborative action by youth, making the most of our interconnected world. Brittany can speak for millions because of this initiative.”
The winner, Brittany, sees the enormity of the opportunity she has been afforded. She comments
“I entered ‘Date With History’ to show solidarity with youth around the world, demanding that our leaders remember we are all their children and they owe us a fighting chance at a future we want to inherit. They need to act now so that we have a bright future, free from fear. I feel honoured to take up my obligation to stand up and be counted as one of my generation and the wisdom of youth at Rio+20.”
Severn Suzuki, who made a moving speech at the 1992 Earth Summit at the age of twelve and is still remembered as the ‘girl who silenced the world for five minutes’, was also a juror in the contest. Her advice to Brittany is,
“Don’t be afraid to speak the truth on the world stage. More than ever, we need the voice of youth to cut through our justification of why we continue to value profit more than peoples’ health, our ecosystems’ sustainability, and justice for the future. Remember you are there representing those who go unheard. And speak what we all know, deep down, to be true.”
More than 130 Heads of State, Vice Presidents, Heads of Government and deputy Prime Ministers are currently inscribed on the speakers list for the Rio+20 Conference from 20-22 June, although the list of names has yet to be published by the UN. In the midst of a convergence of crises set to cause increasing turmoil around the world if governments are unable to address impacts and pressures on economic, social and environmental development, it is hoped that public pressure will stimulate attendance and bold decisions by all Heads of State. It is hoped that Brittany Trilford will receive a high profile speaking opportunity, such as that awarded to Severn Suzuki in Rio in 1992.
About the AuthorTckTckTck is the online hub for the Global Call for Climate Action. The GCCA represents an unprecedented alliance of more than 400 nonprofit organizations from around the world. Our shared mission is to mobilize civil society and galvanize public support to ensure a safe climate future for people and nature, to promote the low-carbon transition of our economies, and to accelerate the adaptation efforts in communities already affected by climate change.
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