Speaking yesterday at the 12th round of UN global climate talks in Nairobi, local environmentalist Wangari Maathai launched a project to plant a billion trees worldwide to combat global warming and poverty.
Kenyan-born Maathai, 66, hit the headlines when her Green Belt Movement planted about 30 million trees all over Africa to help decelerate deforestation and erosion.
In 2004, she became the first African woman and ‘green’ activist to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the judging committee praising her efforts as an effective attempt to help end world poverty.
Speaking to reporters, she pointed out that, ‘There are 6 billion of us … So even if only one-sixth of us each plant a tree, we will definitely reach the target next year’.
‘Anybody can dig a hole, anybody can put a tree in that hole and water it. And everybody can make sure that the tree they plant survives,’ she added.
‘It is a gesture more powerful than any report we can produce, or any political statement we can make,’ commented Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Steiner said planting a billion trees would soak up some 250 million tons of atmosphere-warming carbon dioxide. ‘Planting trees is a win, win, win, win, win proposition, and there are few of those in our world today,’ he added.
Albeit making no funds available, the United Nations has promosed to encourage the initiative.