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Severn Cullis-Suzuki, TED


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Social Studies, Civics, Justice

Regional Focus

Global, North America


Downloadable MP4/M4V

Make Your Actions on Climate Reflect Your Words

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  • In this video, environmental activist Severn Cullis-Suzuki speaks about the urgency for global leaders to take action on climate change. 
  • The video features footage from a speech that Cullis-Suzuki gave to the United Nations in 1992 when she was twelve years old. 
Teaching Tips


  • Severn Cullis-Suzuki makes the case that our current political systems incentivize the short-term interests of individuals instead of the long-term interests of future generations.
  • Cullis-Suzuki's speech from when she was twelve is inspiring, relevant, and can be used as a model for students writing speeches or persuasive arguments.
  • A full transcript of the video is available in twenty-one languages.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should understand ways that governments mobilized quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic to support the public.
  • Students should understand how business interests can conflict with the public good, especially regarding the climate crisis.


  • Students could write speeches addressing global leaders to encourage them to take immediate climate action.
  • Students could write reflections on their beliefs on climate change and their actions. Students could include specific examples of how they succeeded in living up to their values and ways they could improve.
  • Other resources on this topic include this video of Greta Thunberg's speech at the UN Climate Action Summit and this video of climate activist Xiye Bastida reading a letter to older generations about climate action.
Scientist Notes
Nearly 30 years ago, Severn Cullis-Suzuki stood in front of the United Nations and demanded they take action on climate change. Today, she is doing the same thing. While there is no science in this video to verify, it is an important message. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • 7.SL.2 Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.
  • Social Sciences
    • Civics and Government (K-12)
      • 6.3 Examine the origins, purposes, and impact of constitutions, laws, treaties, and international agreements.
      • HS.7 Evaluate the relationships among governments at the local, state, tribal, national, and global levels.
    • Social Science Analysis (K-12)
      • HS.75 Evaluate options for individual and collective actions to address local, regional, and global problems by engaging in self-reflection, strategy identification, and complex causal reasoning.
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