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Rio+20: Brittany Trilford demands world leaders to lead

Brittany Trilford is a 17-year-old girl from New Zealand who won the Tcktcktck competition “Date with History“. Her reward was to speak on behalf of the children and youth in the opening ceremony of the Rio+20 Summit, in front of world leaders from 130 different nations. The competition mobilised young people from every corner of the world and the winner was chosen through public votes as well as a very judicious jury composed of celebrities and personalities, such as Leonardo di Caprio, Marina da Silva, and Severn Suzuki.

On 20 June 2012, Brittany spoke not only to the world leaders in the plenary, but to the whole world who was following along on the internet. Below, you will find her full speech.

Last week I was given the chance to talk to this vibrant girl. This was our conversation:

You will be speaking on behalf of children and youth from all over the world. 20 years ago Severn Suzuki did the same. How do you feel about it?

I have been totally and fully inspired by what Severn Suzuki said. I follow the movements. I follow many of the other influencing views from all over the world. I am really amazed, excited, and nervous about the opportunity to speak, not on behalf of the children, but as a global citizen who cares. I hope I can share the ideas to the same extent as Severn Suzuki did. She was amazing. I hope I can follow in her footsteps. I look up to her, seriously.

This is indeed a great opportunity. What are your expectations with regards to the Rio+20’s outcomes?

I look for commitment, for sure. Commitment to the text that they´ll write. I like how they are including lots of groups and discussions, but I´d like to see more inclusion in what they are doing. I want to see more unity in their communication and taking into account what every group says. The whole idea of accountability that, what they say, they´ll live up to. I hope they will come out of Rio+20 with some specific implementation ideas and some creative ideas. I mean, I said  in my video we can’t fix the future without looking into the past. So I hope they can come up with new ideas and blow us away. I am still hopeful. And I cannot wait to see it. I am willing to help as much as I can.

How do you think young people could get involved, take action, and try to influence these outcomes?

It’s very simple, really. It’s just talking and thinking, thinking — you know? That’s why I love the whole idea of the “Date with History” initiative. The idea of being asked “what kind of future do you want?”, and then having the opportunity to talk and share ideas with young people from all over the world.

I didn’t expect to win. I didn’t expect anything to come out of it. I just wanted to say “Hey, this is what I think. Do you want to listen to me?”. And people started to listen to me. It was an amazing experience and now I am here.

What does the future you want to have look like?

Well, the future I want is very basic, it is made of people. I want people’s rights to be respected. I want the people to have a future and not to have their future stolen by governments or limited by the policies they have been making. A future where the leaders lead, you know? I want them to lead with examples and best practices. I want them to consider their views and take them into account when making decisions. The young people are willing to commit. Everyone is willing to commit. We just lack the political commitment and will to make a change. The future I want looks like very different from the one we have now.

Are you positive this change will happen soon?

We need to be. We need to think about this positively because pessimism is not going to get us anywhere. I think the issue of sustainable development is very global and there are so many challenges we have to face. But these challenges are not problems. I think we can network and we can make a change because the future we want is achievable, as long as we commit ourselves. This is what I am looking for from the leaders.

How do you feel about your country’s role in the negotiations in Rio+20 and in this entire change?

New Zealand is involved in the negotiations, but not as much as I would like to see it involved. It is somewhat disappointing to hear that my Prime Minister, John Key, is not going to be here. But, I think this is something we can work on. I hope to do my best for my country and for the three million people living there. I would like to see more commitments from New Zealand with Kyoto Protocols and things like that that are going on. New Zealand has a long way to go, but we are working on it and we are getting there.

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About The Author(s)



Diêgo Lôbo

Public Relations and Blogger

Diêgo works with communications and fundraising for CESE, a Brazilian NGO. He is Chief-in-Editor of "E esse tal Meio Ambiente?", a 3-year-blog addressing environmental issues formed by young professionals with different backgrounds and skills, from all over the country. As a result of this work, he has published a book, participated and covered several events and also received national and international recognition. He is interested in discussions regarding climate issues, communication, social movements, human rights and so on.

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