28 November 2007 One billion trees have been planted under a drive backed by the United Nations and the World Agroforestry Centre, hitting the milestone as planned ahead of next month's international climate change conference in Bali.
Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, said the achievement of the goal “is a further sign of the breathtaking momentum witnessed this year on the challenge for this generation – climate change.”
The campaign, he said, proved that “given a focus and the chance to act, millions if not billions of people around this world want an end to pollution and environmental deterioration and have rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty to prove the point.”
Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan Green Belt founder and co-patron of the campaign, welcomed the success of the drive and praised those who had participated in it while calling for continued vigilance. “Now we must keep the pressure on and continue the good work for the planet. Plant another tree today in celebration!”
Half of all those who participated were often private citizens or households planting one to three trees, according to UNEP, while another 13 per cent were planted by the private sector.
The news comes as thousands of delegates across the world prepare to travel to the Indonesian island of Bali for the next and most crucial round of global warming negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), jointly established by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization, this year concluded that the global impacts of climate change are likely to be in many cases devastating but cost effective solutions are available now to counter the worst.
The Billion Tree Campaign was launched at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi last November. The agency said it is expecting Guatemala, China and Spain to announce that several million more trees have been planted, and predicted that Indonesia will plant almost 80 million trees in one day in the run up to the Bali climate convention meeting next month.
While not all numbers are in, UNEP said the top-ranking countries appear to be Ethiopia, over 700 million trees planted; Mexico, 217 million trees; Turkey, 150 million; Kenya, 100 million; Cuba, 96.5 million; Rwanda, 50 million; Republic of Korea, 43 million; Tunisia, 21 million; Morocco, 20 million; Myanmar, 20 million and Brazil, 16 million. The Green Belt Movement planted 4.7 million trees, double the number of trees it had initially pledged.