New Zealand teenager wins trip to Rio to address world leaders

by Toby Manhire / 27 May, 2012

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Wellington's Brittany Trilford will speak at UN Earth Summit in Brazil after winning Date With History contest.


A Wellington teenager will travel to Rio next month to school the world’s leaders on the challenges of the future, after topping a global online search.

Seventeen-year-old Brittany Trilford will address the Earth Summit this June 20-22 in Brazil as winner of the Date with History contest. (See tcktcktck for more.)

Here is Trilford's winning entry:



The peroration:

What kind of future do I want? I want a future where education encourages innovative thinking. I want a future where we run with natural processes and not against them. I want a future where leaders will stop talking, a start acting. I want a future where leaders lead.


Her victory at the end of last week has picked up a good bit of attention overseas, including in the Guardian, the Huffington Post, and a number of Australian outlets, but has largely gone unnoticed so far in New Zealand (there was this).

She was also interviewed by BBC World News. Here's a taste, as posted by Brittany at Soundcloud:



In that Huffpo piece – headlined “17-Year-Old Wins ‘Date with History’: An All Star Salute, Trip to Rio, and Chance to Save the World” – Lisa Kaas Boyle provides the background to the win:

Brittany will be following in the footsteps of another great young orator who spoke at the original Earth Summit held in 1992 also in Rio De Janeiro. Twenty years ago, a 12 year old girl named Severn Suzuki was said to "silence the world" with her powerful plea for environmental sustainability on behalf of future generations at The Earth Summit ...


Today, Severn Suzuki, a Yale educated ecologist and biologist, author, speaker and television host, is a mother herself. She is returning to Rio to participate in the 20th anniversary of the first Earth Summit, now called The Rio + 20 Earth Summit. And as a judge in the "Date with History Contest" Ms Suzuki participated in choosing Brittany as her successor, a young person who can speak truth to power at the Rio + 20 Earth Summit ...


More than 150 Heads of state and government will attend the Earth Summit, in the midst of a convergence of crises unlike any seen in our history. Public pressure may well stimulate attendance by key actors, such as President Obama, who are still undecided about attending.


And it’s a bit of a celeb-fest, too. Among the judges was Leonardo DiCaprio, and our Brittany even got a cheer from Julia Louis Dreyfus:

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