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12th February 2007

Wangari Maathai launches Billion Tree Campaign at Exeter

The British launch of a campaign to plant a billion trees worldwide in 2007 took place at Exeter College on February 10th. Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai planted a walnut tree in the Fellows Garden to replace a large horse chestnut that died two years ago. The campaign, led by Professor Maathai, is sponsored by the UN Environment Programme.

Speaking at the tree-planting, Professor Maathai, urged everyone to take action to combat climate change. “Everyone can do something,” she said. “For example, you can plant a tree.” Professor Maathai is the founder of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, which combats deforestation in Africa.

The launch was preceded by a seminar entitled “Keeping Our Promises to the Earth.” Speakers included Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director-General of ther World Conservation Union, Bianca Jagger, a human rights campaigner, and Marie-Claire Cordonnier-Segger, a graduate of Exeter College and a Director of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) in Montreal, Canada. The seminar marked the formal launch in Britain of the Earth Charter, an internationally agreed document on environmental sustainability and human rights. The CISDL also announced the start of an annual lecture series on environmental law at Exeter College.

The tree-planting was preceded by a procession along Turl Street, led by the Ken Colyer New Orleans Jazz Band, which later played a concert in Hall.

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