The Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign, coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), encourages action by all sectors of society – from the concerned citizen to the philanthropic corporation – to take small but practical steps to combat what is probably the key challenge of the 21st century. The campaign is open to all – individuals, children and youth groups, schools, community groups, non-governmental organizations, farmers, private sector organizations, local authorities, and national governments.
The Billion Tree Campaign is the first Internet-based worldwide tree planting initiative (www.unep.org/billiontreecampaign). In July 2008, the project received the UN 21 award.
By the end of 2009, more than 7.4 billion trees had been planted under this campaign – far in excess of the year-end target of 7 billion – by participants in 170 countries. With this success continuing into 2010, the Billion Tree Campaign will make a substantial contribution to the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity for our well-being. Trees play a crucial role as fundamental components of the biodiversity that forms the foundation of the living networks and systems that provide us all with health, wealth, food, fuel and vital ecosystem services our lives depend on. They help provide breathable air, drinkable water, fertile soils and a stable climate. The billions of trees planted by the collective efforts of participants of the Billion Tree Campaign from all parts of society will contribute to biodiversity across the planet.
Corporate partners include, amongst others, Yves Rocher, Coca-Cola Company (East and Central Africa), Credit Agricole, Bayer, Toyota, AAR, Accor, Malaco and Tesco.
The Billion Tree Campaign was launched jointly with the World Agroforestry Centre during the UN climate convention meeting in November 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya, under the patronage of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai and His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Its initial goal was to catalyze the pledging and the planting of one billion trees as a way of giving public expression to the challenges of climate change and also forest and ecosystem degradation.
Since then the Billion Tree Campaign has more than surpassed its aims, evolving into a true ‘People’s Campaign’ – more than half (52 per cent) of all the participants are private individuals.
Furthermore, tree planting has become both an inter-faith and an inter-generational activity, with the trees symbolizing connections between children and parents and bringing together people from different religious backgrounds.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, the founder of the Kenyan Green Belt Movement and the campaign’s co-patron, said: “Let’s plant even more trees to celebrate this wonderful achievement, the fruit of collective action from people all over the planet. By making the Billion Tree Campaign such an incredible success, people from every continent are calling their governments to truly start caring for the planet and to find unity in the fight against climate change.”
His Serene Highness Albert II, the Sovereign Prince of Monaco and the campaign’s co-patron, said: “I have always had a strong belief in the symbolic strength of the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign and I am delighted that it has exceeded our greatest expectations, far beyond the welfare linked to replanting trees, to benefit future generations.”