“I am only a child, yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world toward one single goal.”
Severn Suzuki, 12 years old
1992 Rio Earth Summit
In 1992, representatives from 172 nations — including 108 heads of state — and more than 24,000 representatives from nongovernmental organizations gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, or Rio Earth Summit. Of all the speeches delivered over the course of the 11-day conference, one voice rose above the rest: that of 12-year-old Severn Suzuki of Canada.
Now known as “the girl who silenced the world for five minutes,” Suzuki addressed delegates from around the world in an impassioned speech entreating world leaders to protect the Earth and its people. Suzuki urged everyone to follow the creed of sustainable development: to live and grow in a way that preserves the environment and ensures that future generations will be able to enjoy both the Earth’s natural resources and a high standard of living.
Since Suzuki’s speech, youth activism in the field of sustainable development has continued to grow. More than half the world’s population is currently younger than 25, with even higher percentages of youth living in developing countries. Millions of young people are making it clear that they do not want to inherit or pass on a world threatened by climate change, poverty and illness. Instead, they are using their creativity, energy and persistence to set the world on a more sustainable path.
This issue of eJournal USA explores how young people are leading the way to a cleaner, greener, more sustainable future. From launching their own environmental organizations to developing alternative energy resources, today’s youth have what it takes to make the world a better place.
Youth Today Lead Today
Astrid Nicole Ng
Youth are leading the way to a sustainable future by creating innovative solutions to global problems.
Top 10 Reasons to Go Green in 2012
Road to Rio+20
This is the year for young people worldwide to campaign and act on local and global sustainable development issues.
INNOVATION IN ACTION
Sustainable Societies Start with Youth
Ashley Rainey Donahey
As the world grows older, young people are working to ensure a brighter, greener future for generations to come.
HELPING PEOPLE AND PLANET
From Waste to Warmth
A team of teenagers is turning wasted cooking oil into an alternative energy source for needy families in Rhode Island.
Sharing a Ride Reduces Traffic and Pollution
Young entrepreneurs in Mexico encourage commuters to share rides to save the environment.
Indonesia’s Sahabat Alam, Protecting the Earth
Fifteen-year-old environmental activist Adeline Tiffanie Suwana proves one person can make a difference.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE
GreenShields Clears the Air, Boosts Education
Sixteen-year-old Jonny Cohen is making school buses more energy- and cost-efficient.
Building Windmills by Candlelight
Student William Kamkwamba turned discarded metal and plastic into energy-producing windmills in Malawi.
Noise Goes Electric
Four students at American University at Sharjah are converting noise into clean, renewable energy.
LIGHTING THE PATH
Team Belgium: Solar Can Be Affordable
A team of university students in Belgium shows that an energy-neutral home can be as affordable as any other house.
Cooking Inside the Box
Jon Bøhmer’s Kyoto Box is a simple invention that makes a major difference for those struggling to get clean energy for cooking.
Lighting Up Rural Innovation in India
Two young entrepreneurs use tractors to help rural students study after dark.