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Dec 2011

Billion Tree Campaign handover to young generation

On 7 December, 2011, at the end of the International Year of Forests, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) handed over the Billion Tree Campaign to the children of Plant-for-the-Planet.

Inspired by Wangari Maathai and launched in 2006 by the UN Environment Programme. The campaign catalysed tree planting action on all continents. The billionth tree, an African Olive, was planted in Ethiopia in November 2007. In 2008, the campaign's target was raised to seven billion trees.

The campaign has found many supporters in the corporate world, governments and many non-governmental organisations like the World Organization of the Scouts Movement, and the UN Peacekeeping missions.

Plant-for-the-Planet had been a member of the Billion Tree Campaign since 2007. Under its roof, children all around the world planted millions of trees. The move of the Billion Tree Campaign from New York to Munich shows an acknowledgement of the right of the young generation to own – and secure – their own future. Now it's children to watch over the grown-ups that they too plant their trees and don't spend the resources on their favourite game: corruption.

The current goal is 13 billion trees.

See: Billion Tree Campaign

string: Moving UN speech by Felix Finkbeiner

'Forest Hero' Shigeatsu Hatakeyama. © Ryo Murakami/UNU
Dec 2011

Forests 'activate' coastal seas

Already decades ago, Katsuhiko Matsunaga, a marine chemist at Hokkaido University in Japan, discovered that when tree leaves decompose, they leech acids into the ocean that help fertilize plankton. And when plankton thrives, so does the rest of the food chain. [1]

This was put into good practice by Japanese fisherman Mr Shigeatsu Hatakeyama who inherited an oyster farm business from his parents. But the waters in Kesennuma Bay in Miyagi, Japan, had become unsuitable for oyster cultivation after an outbreak of red tide plankton. On a trip to France in 1984, Mr Hatakeyama saw healthy oysters in the Loire river estuary and noticed a vast deciduous broadleaf forest upriver. He made the connection and he realized the positive influence forests have on ocean ecology and biodiversity.

Back home, he held the first Mori wa Umi no Koibito (Forests are Lovers of the Sea) campaign in 1989: with other fishermen he planted broadleaf trees upstream along the Okawa River to reduce pollutants flowing into the sea. These afforestation activities became an annual event and have since gained momentum – so far, more than 50,000 trees have been planted. It has led to a region-wide proactive movement to preserve the environment, including water drainage regulation and promoting farming practices with less agricultural chemicals. [2] [3]

Mr Hatakeyama became known as 'Grandpa Oyster' after spending more than twenty years developing the forest that keeps the Okawa River clean and his thriving oysters healthy.
In 2009, he established another Forests are Lovers of the Sea programme which provides hands-on education for children, bringing them closer to the ocean and the forest.

He has now received a Forest Heroes Award from the UN International Year of Forests 2011 committee.

[1] Jim Robbins, Why Trees Matter, NY Times, April 11, 2012
[2] Asia & Japan Watch
[3] UN Forest Heroes Award

Felix Finkbeiner delivering his speech at the UN headquarters. © Plant-for-the-Planet
Feb 2011

Moving UN speech by Felix Finkbeiner

2011 was proclaimed by the UN as the International Year of Forests. At the opening ceremony in New York, 13-year-old Felix Finkbeiner addresses the UN with a moving speech, demanding of the grown-ups to care for the planet und give the younger generations a future.

Felix was nine years old when he founded the children's initiative Plant for the Planet in Bavaria in 2007. Plant for the Planet grew rapidly into a world-wide movement and in the first four and a half years of its existence over 3.8 million trees were planted.

Watch video on UN Media

Comment by Fred Hageneder: 'To some viewers, the auditorium at Felix's UN speech might seem half empty but to me it is half full. I compare it with an event about five years previously, when the UN had agreed, for once, to give the indigenous nations of the world some speech time. Some 5,000 indigenous nations, most of them more or less threatened by ecocide or even genocide, were granted 5 minutes (!) speech time. As ambassador they chose a 12-year-old boy from Central America. His brilliant talk was greeted by low attendance, boredom and ignorance. The camera showed delegates engaged in paper scribbles, finger-tapping or impatiently checking their watches. It was torture to watch. Hence I am rather happy with the reception of Felix's message. Times have moved on!'

string: Billion Tree Campaign handover to young generation

Unblock Our Future banner. © UK Youth Climate Coalition
April 2009

Youth for a clean, fair future

In spring 2009, Kersty Schneeberger as spokesperson for the UK Youth Climate Coalition delivered an amazing speech at the United Nations climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany. 'How old will you be in 2050?' is her message to wake up the older-generation decision-makers that there, in fact, exist generations who come after them and who will inherit the planetary mess the elders are still making now.

Kersty co-founded Think2050, an intergenerational equity consultancy, and also DECC's (Dept. of Energy and Climate Change) Youth Advisory Panel of which she is the co-ordinator. As a trainee lawyer and director of a coalition of academics and legal professionals, she seeks to establish an International Court for the Environment.

'We are part of a global movement of young people who will no longer be accused of apathy.'
-- Kersty Schneeberger

links: UK Youth Climate Coalition
World Peace Festival