Throughout her youth, Severn recognized that society and ecology were in conflict, and at age 9 started the Environmental Children’s Organization, a group of friends committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. They were successful in several small projects, and finally organized and fundraised to attend the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, where 12-year-old Severn delivered a powerful speech that garnered worldwide attention. This speech is still having an impact today.
Since then Severn has continued as an advocate for intergenerational justice, writing and speaking worldwide about acting with the future in mind, and the interconnection between culture and environment. She is proud of being on the Earth Charter Commission, and she sits on the Earth Charter International Council. In 2000, she and five friends carried out Powershift—a cross Canada cycling campaign to raise awareness about climate change and air pollution. With fellow students at Yale University, she developed the ‘Recognition of Responsibility’ that she brought to the 2002 UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she was on the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Special Advisory Panel. The trip was the subject of a documentary film that aired on CBC’s long-running documentary series ‘The Nature of Things.’ Severn has been on four speaking tours in Japan with the Sloth Club, the most recent in February 2014.
Severn believes that science and media communication is important for informing global change. She received a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (Yale, 2002), and a Masters of Science in Ethnobotany (University of Victoria, 2007) where she studied with Kwakwaka’wakw elders on the Pacific Northwest coast. published several books, and co-hosted a TV series in North America for children called ‘Suzuki’s NatureQuest’. She is one of the authors and editors of the book ‘Notes from Canada’s Young Activists’ (Greystone Books 2007), and currently hosts the third season of the APTN series ‘Samaqan – Water Stories’ about Indigenous Peoples’ water issues.
Severn lives on the islands of Haida Gwaii, where she lives with her husband, and two sons. She is studying the Skidegate dialect of the endangered Haida language with elders and teaching her children. She is an Earth Charter International councillor, and a board member of the David Suzuki Foundation and the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society. She hopes her pursuit of traditional and scientific knowledge will help her promote a world of diversity, justice and respect.