‘Stop Talking and Start Planting’

Posted on 09 December 2010 by admin

Felix Finkbeiner. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

Felix Finkbeiner. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

By Mantoe Phakathi

CANCÚN, Dec 9, 2010 (IPS/TerraViva) – While delegates, ministers and politicans struggle towards agreement on a climate change treaty in the conference rooms of the Moon Palace, a group of children are getting on with it outside, planting trees to save the planet.

“Stop talking and start planting,” is the message from a group of children to the politicians struggling to reach agreement on a climate change treaty.

“Unless we start acting now, talking will not stop the glaciers from melting,” said 13-year-old Felix Finkbeiner, a United Nations Environment Programme climate justice ambassador.

Finkbeiner, was inspired by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, who planted 30 million trees in her native Kenya, to try to plant a million trees in every country of the world.

He shared this vision with his classmates at the Munich International School while  making a presentation on the climate crisis. His teacher and the director of the school both bought into the idea and it has grown into a children’s movement with 100,000 members in 91 countries.

“I want to have a better future and that’s why I’m urging the grown-ups to come out of the conference room to plant trees with us here,” said seven-year-old Emiliano Garza.

The Mexican government donated around 200 saplings to be planted outside the Moon Palace, the climate talks venue.

Finkbeiner said the trees would stand not only as a symbol for climate justice, they are also a (small) carbon sink, doing their part to reduce the devastating impact of climate change.

“It’s disappointing that in Copenhagen the negotiators failed to come up with a concrete solution that would save the planet in the years to come,” said Finkbeiner.

Kenya’s Assistant Minister of Environment and Mineral Resources Professor Margaret Kamar liked the idea of children participating in conserving the environment. She said there is a big gap between the protection of the environment and education.

“We need to inculcate the culture of conservation among children,” said Kamar.

She said this is especially relevant in African countries like Kenya where intense pressure to clear land for agriculture and for fuel means that forests now cover only three percent of the land.

She said Kenya is involved in the planting of trees under the Maathai’s Green Belt Movement, initiated by Maathai. Across Africa, deforestation is resulting in the loss of topsoil to erosion and the expansion of deserts.

Mandrate Oreste Nakala, Deputy Director of Land and Forest Management from Mozambique’s agriculture ministry said that planting trees was an important part of his country’s efforts to control a different problem – flooding.

Nakala, who also planted a tree at the Moon Palace on behalf of his country, said that trees helped to reduce flooding.

Climate change produces two kinds of water problems, said Nakala. “You either have too much or too little.”

He was also impressed by the children’s initiative, saying that involving kids in the climate talks could help push decision-makers past deadlocks towards action.


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