15 July 2020

75 Trees for UN75: Planting for the Future

The Energy Policy and Development Centre (KEPA) of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the UNAI member institution in Greece serving as the SDG Hub for Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy, has launched an initiative entitled “75 Trees for the 75 Years of the UN” to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.  The program also coincides with the decision of the States party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to increase National Determined Contributions (NDCs) or efforts to reduce national emissions.

The basis of the program is that people and communities, including institutions of higher education, will plant 75 trees in 2020 to help raise awareness on issues related to green energy, climate change and environmental protection, but also to help the environment through simple measures undertaken at the grassroots level. The goal of planting at least 1 million trees is directly linked to the appeal made by the UN Secretary-General to increase our ambition in addressing climate change through concrete and measurable actions.

Such an initiative will contribute to the reforestation of the planet which helps combat climate change. According to the UN Environment Programme, “each year approximately 12 million hectares of forest are destroyed. This deforestation, together with agriculture and other land use changes, is responsible for roughly 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

In 2019 the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat issued a background analytical study entitled Forests and Climate Change, which highlights the role that reforestation has in climate mitigation and underlines that trees “can be particularly important in cities, where trees can help to counteract the urban heat island effect.” Doctor Dimitrios Mavrakis, Director of KEPA, explained that academia can play a significant part in this initiative by providing expertise and liaising with various stakeholders, including at the national and international level. “Academia can provide the knowledge on which this initiative will flourish,” he said.

Dr. Mavrakis also pointed out the importance of college students who “can be the motivators, supporters and initiators of the projects on their campuses while also sharing information within their own communities and schools, motivating those around them.” According to the director, “the overall success of the whole effort will be heavily defined by the people who will be engaged in the process.”

If you would like to learn more and join the initiative, contact KEPA at epgsec@kepa.uoa.gr and unai.hub.sdg7@kepa.uoa.gr. You can find out more about this and other UNAI SDG Hubs here.