At 9 years old, Felix Finkbeiner, inspired by the story of Kenyan politician and environmental activist Wangari Maathai, developed the idea that children could promote climate justice by planting a million trees in every country. With the support of children from over 100 countries, Felix launched the youth initiative Plant-for-the-Planet in 2007. So far, more than 85,000 youth in 76 countries have been trained in Plant-for-the-Planet Academies. As Climate Justice Ambassadors, the children give speeches to adults, motivate everyone to plant trees and fight for their future. Today, Felix is a Ph.D. candidate at ETH Zurich studying the potential of forest restoration in addressing the climate crisis. Plant-for-the-planet.org
My key takeaways
Felix has a fascinating story. At 9 years old he started something which has grown from strength to strength. Now at the age of 22, his focus hasn’t changed.
A lady from Kenya who created a movement that after 30 years, was responsible for the planting of 30 million trees across East Africa. This inspired Felix, at such a young age and with the support and input of his immediate family, they grew what is now recognised in many parts of the world – Plant for the Planet.
Questions that I ask Felix throughout this interview around starting something so young and his answers that follow got me thinking that perhaps, not to underestimate the hard work undertaken by him, his family and the over one hundred individuals working on the cause, it seems to me it was the persistence and ‘why not’ attitude that comes with being a child that lifted this off the ground 13 years ago. No defences or hatred but honesty and love with minimal fear. All of which are forces hard to argue with.
Felix mentions something about the need for conviction that struck me as powerful. He said that real conviction doesn’t come with expectations, it just is. To have an expectation, you first need to understand what isn’t the expectation which could be, in a word, expressed as doubt. In essence, conviction doesn’t allow for doubt.
Now studying for his PhD to further improve the impact he has already created – such a lack of arrogance knowing that he can never know too much about his cause and the best ways in which to challenge and tackle it. Felix definitely has conviction!
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