Kiwi schoolgirl addresses world leaders at Rio+20 summit

Last updated 08:58 21/06/2012

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A Wellington schoolgirl has stood before world leaders and media and called for an end to broken environmental promises.

Brittany Trilford, 17, was one of the opening speakers at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil early this morning, New Zealand time.

She was selected after submitting an impassioned video that impressed a jury including Hollywood heavyweights Leonardo DiCaprio and Don Cheadle.

The Queen Margaret College pupil showed no nerves as she stood before the crowd.

"I'm here to fight for my future. That's it," she said.

She said environmental problems were getting worse and not enough was being done to change that.

"We plunder away our natural resources, diminishing our biodiversity, our oceans, our forests, and then we demand more."

Her speech follows in the tradition of Severn Suzuki, "the girl who silenced the world for six minutes" after her speech at the original 1992 Earth Summit in Rio as a 12-year-old.

But unlike Severn, who gave her moving speech to a largely empty auditorium, Brittany had a packed room still watching for her speech.

She referred back to the famous speech.

"People at that summit knew there had to be change. Our systems were failing, collapsing all around us. And these people came together to acknowledge these challenges, to work for something better, to commit to something better.

"They made great promises, promises that when I read them still leave me feeling hopeful.

"These promises are left not broken - but empty."

She called on leaders to come together for a common good, over stock market gains, ending her speech: "As I stand here to face you today I wonder; are you here to hedge your bets and see what happens?

"To save face or to save us? Thanks You."

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- The Dominion Post

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