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RIO+20 The Future We Want

RIO+20 the future we want

Yao Chen: The Future We Want

Every so often I closed my eyes, trying to visualize what my future would look like – what emerged in my mind was the world 20 years ago. My desired future, it turns out, is the restoration of nature.

In my precious childhood memories, fireflies – my closest friends – were flashing through the darkness. Sadly they can no longer be seen in our cities. Every time I attempt to describe the little creatures to my six- or seven year-old audiences, they always give me a blank stare as if I were talking about the magical elves in a fairy tale.  None of those young residents of our modern cities have ever seen fireflies.

As my childhood memories reveal, on beautiful summer nights in our backyard, my granny would set up a mosquito net under a magnolia tree. I sat together with my siblings, gazing at the starry sky, as fireflies beamed away like a meteor shooting across the sky. I lifted up the net to let the little elves come in. The tiny creatures flew into our net and brightened it up like an enchanted castle. Feeling weary from flying in the air, one of them ended up resting on my shoulder. The blinking light, like a beacon of trust, softly twinkled around me and led me into sweet dreams.

The starry sky, green hills and clear water, together with clusters of beautiful fireflies, form my fondest yet irrecoverable childhood memories. But where have the fireflies all gone? "Every hometown is fading away," a poet once wrote. Being clouded by material desires, human beings have torn down and renovated countless hometowns in the name of “improvement.” Looking at those blurry old hometowns, I can only sense loss, not future.

George Bernard Shaw wished to leave a better world than the one he found. His wish is also my sincere hope.

Yao Chen is one of China’s most famous actresses. She is actively involved in humanitarian efforts and is the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) honorary patron for China.