New Zealand teenager wins trip to Rio to address world leaders

By Toby Manhire In The Internaut

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27th May, 2012 Leave a Comment

Brittany Trifold is congratulated over Skype by a former MP for Mt Albert. Pic: @BrttnyTrlfrd

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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