STOCKHOLM, Sept. 26, 2019 (AFP) – In 1992, at age 12, Canadian Severn Cullis-Suzuki rose to the pulpit of the Earth Conference in Rio de Janeiro to intercede for the planet. Now she supports the fight of another teenager, the Swedish Greta Thunberg, against leaders she "fills with shame".
"I'm just a child and I don't have all the solutions, but I want you to realize that you don't," said Cullis-Suzuki in 1992, addressing the Heads of State and Government gathered in the Wonderful City.
His words could be the same as another teenage girl, 16-year-old Swedish Greta Thunberg, who on Monday, during the UN General Assembly, accused the adults of stealing her dreams and childhood "with her empty words," with their "fairy tales of eternal economic growth".
"Why were the decades that followed (the Rio conference) more destructive?" Wonders Severn Cullis-Suzuki, who spoke to AFP of the Haida Gwaii Canadian Archipelago, off the coast of British Columbia, where he lives with her husband, a member of the Haida indigenous community, and their two children.
"Everything is explained by the way of governing, the agreements that are signed but not respected," he says. "Now we have climate change, which affects almost everyone. We don't have time to wait for another generation," he warns.
At 39, Cullis-Suzuki believes that the personal attacks on Greta Thunberg, who has Asperger's Syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder, are due to adults seeing her as a threat because she denounces her irresponsibility.
"It's because it's powerful. It fills the leaders with shame. It calls the revolution, so they want to silence it. It's a girl who says, 'The king is naked.'"
"She's a young woman who laughs at her looks … I hope she has spiritual and personal support," says Cullis-Suzuki.
After Eco-92, she worked on the UN-created Earth Charter Commission, which promotes "fundamental ethical principles for building a more just, sustainable and peaceful world society in the 21st century."
She then studied ethnoecology and advised UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.
– "Destructive Structures" -Severn Cullis-Suzuki is the daughter of writer Tara Elizabeth Cullis and Canadian geneticist David Suzuki, known for his science-based program "The Nature of Things."
He is currently preparing a doctoral dissertation on revitalizing at-risk languages, particularly Haida, which is about to disappear.
According to her, cultural diversity and biodiversity "are part of the same process."
This is the case of the Amazonian Kayapó Indians, who live "in the last lines of defense before the planet-eating excavators" or indigenous communities, who show everywhere that they know "managing the ecosystem and its resources".
The Haida Gwaii archipelago, formerly known as Queen Carlota Islands, wants to stop using fossil fuels by 2023, an ambitious target for a 10,000 km2 rocky territory, dubbed "The Galapagos of Canada" that relies on diesel generators and a single hydroelectric plant.
Severn and his family eat local produce from the land, hunt and fish and try to travel less. "For years I have insisted on the need for each to act at his or her level, but there cannot be a single individual response" to what she calls "destructive collective structures."
"Our economy has dominated our cultural values … We have to ask ourselves: Does degrowth mean less quality of life? On the contrary," says Cullis-Suzuki, who advocates an ecological "New Deal."
gab / hdy / cn / pc / erl / mvv / ll