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Billion Tree Campaign Hits its Seven Billion Goal Target

New York/Nairobi, 21 September 2009 - The global public's desire to see action on climate change was clearly spotlighted today with the announcement that the Billion Tree Campaign has reached 7 billion trees - one for every person on the planet.

Over the past three years millions of people ranging from scouts to presidents and from schoolchildren to city dwellers and corporate heads have been rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty for the environment through tree planting.

Today's milestone was reached with the news that the Government of China has planted 2.6 billion trees as part of this unique campaign, bringing the total to 7.3 billion trees planted in 167 countries worldwide.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said: "Seven billion trees, seven billion commitments to action and seven billion reasons why governments should be inspired to Seal the Deal at the crucial UN climate change convention meeting in Copenhagen in less than 80 days' time."

"When we first launched the Billion Tree Campaign in 2006, people truly responded. At first they planted hundreds of trees, then it was thousands, and then millions - and then we reached 1 billion trees. Then we made the bold decision to issue a call for the world to plant 7 billion trees, one for each person on the planet. And our target even got exceeded: the counter now stands at 7.3 billion trees. As the Secretary-General convenes Heads of State tomorrow for the Climate Summit, there can be no more powerful sign of people's will that we need to seal the deal in Copenhagen," he added.

"Above all the Billion Tree Campaign shows that the simple act of planting a tree resonates and unites the child in the slums of Africa with a president in Mexico, or a corporate CEO in Paris with UN peacekeepers in Timor-Leste. It is the kind of solidarity that now needs to be expressed at the level of all governments and heads of state between now and December in order to move economies towards a low carbon, sustainable path," said Mr Steiner.

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."

For more information please contact:
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, on Tel: +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, or when travelling: +41 795965737, or e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Visit the Billion Tree Campaign website 

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