Why is there so little action among adults? And what can be done? In a hard-hitting speech at the UN, 13-year old Felix speaks up.
Media release on the speech on Plant for the Planet
Paehl, February 2, 2011 - Felix Finkbeiner, founder of the student initiative Plant-for-the-Planet, spoke today at the opening of the International Year of Forests. This year was declared during the 9th conference of the United Nations Forum on Forests, UNFF, in New York. The 13 year old boy from Germany was invited as speaker by the United Nations.
With Felix at the speaker's desk there were also some other children from different countries representing Plant-for-the-Planet worldwide.
In his speech Felix presented the motives and goals of the children and asked them to join forces worldwide in the fight for their future. He asked the adults insistently to finally act and to not just talk anymore in the fight against the climate crisis.
"We don't trust your words anymore – you're destroying our future!"
Since 2007 the children of Plant-for-the-Planet have been speaking up for a total reduction of CO2 emissions and for climate justice in terms of a consistent division of these emissions among all human beings. The fact that the consequences of the climate crisis hit the poorer countries disproportionately harder is especially important to the children. They want to plant 1 million trees in every country of the Earth. Not only will the planted trees detract CO2 out of the atmosphere, but also every tree is a symbol for climate justice. The children are convinced that forestation will be the imperative for the coming years when humans will compensate their CO2 emissions only approximately and want to limit the consequences of the climate crisis.
"We children know that our future is at high risk. With the climate crisis our generation faces probably the biggest challenge that has ever existed", said Felix. "We children become active ourselves since we have lost our trust in the adults. We don't rely on you anymore with solving the climate problem."
Still Felix used his speech to urge the adults one more time to act. In drastic words he described that according to the children there are only two groups of adults: the ones who stand up actively for climate protection and, in that way, for the future of the children, and those, who do not. He reproached those of destroying the children's future.
Felix called on all children of the world to join forces, to plant trees and to fight together to save their future.
He took the opportunity to spontaneously call for a "Trillion Tree Campaign": His vision is that all people together plant one trillion of trees worldwide by 2050, this means 1.000.000.000.000 trees. Due to this large carbon sink, an additional 10 billion tons of CO2 could be bound each year. Thus, precious time is gained by slowing down the effects of climate change
Great expectations from the International Year of Forests
With the International Year of Forests the United Nations worldwide point out to the special responsibility of humans for the forest: The forest is not only an important natural habitat for countless animals and plants, but it is mainly a valuable natural heritage and protects climate, water and ground. Sustainable forest cultivation can help significantly with combating poverty and to reach the internationally agreed development goals. The necessity of sustainable forest cultivation for the maintenance and development of forests for the use of today's and future generations will be demonstrated by the International Year of Forests.
This objective of the United Nations accompanies the one of the children of Plant-for-the-Planet. The children embrace this initiative and thank the United Nations that they put the forests, as the most important CO2 reservoir that humans have, in front of the public's eyes.
That is why children have great hopes for 2011: They want to use the attention given to the ecosystem forest to give a strong voice to their concern, too. Worldwide they want to inspire children to become active with Plant-for-the-Planet, find adults as supporters and maybe also get politicians to act finally.
They take the International Year of Forests as an occasion to intensify their activities and foremost to get involved on a more international level than before.
During his stay in New York and Washington D.C. Felix is visiting several schools, gives speeches and organizes planting activities with children and trains them to become climate justice ambassadors.
In this way he emphasizes once again that he counts on the children and on the joint activities. In his opinion his speech at the United Nations was important, but it is more important to him to finally become active together - according to the children's slogan "Stop talking. Start planting.", as the children cannot and do not want to wait for the adults.
Original text of Felix speech (pdf)