For proving that everyone can be a climate leader.
In January 2007, when Finkbeiner was nine years old and in fourth grade, he gave a class presentation on the climate crisis in which he suggested to classmates that children should plant one million trees in each country of the world. Together with many of his classmates, Felix planted a tree on 28 March 2007 and launched Plant-for-the-Planet. After three years, the initiative planted its millionth tree. A decade later, Plant-for-the-Plant employs 130 people internationally and has trained more than 81,000 children and youth in 73 countries.
The organization currently restores 22,500 hectares of forest on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico by planting on average one tree every 15 seconds. Plant-for-the-Planet leads the UN Billion Tree Campaign, as part of which 13.6 billion trees have been planted to date.
It would be too glib to say it has been easy, or that without Felix’s personal drive and charisma, or without the support of his school and his family it would have been as successful but this is the climate leadership that inspires me because it should powerfully inspire everyone with what we are capable of, without much more than purpose, ambition and commitment to action.
Felix Finkbeiner is a German environmentalist and the founder of the international tree-planting and environmental advocacy organization Plant-for-the-Planet - led by children and youth. He is speaking at the global landscapes forum event, the Online Forum for The Decade of Ecosystem Restoration in New York this week as part of the United Nations Climate Week 2019.
Tim Christophersen is the Head of Freshwater, Land and Climate Branch at UN Environment.