3 June 2020

Millennium Fellows Emmanuel Inganji and Maureen Wachira: Adopt a Tree

United Nations Academic Impact and the Millennium Campus Network (MCN) are proud to partner on the Millennium Fellowship, a semester-long leadership development program that helps students design and implement community-level initiatives to promote sustainability and help others in need.

Over 7,000 young leaders on 1,209 campuses across 135 nations applied to join the Millennium Fellowship Class of 2019; 69 campuses worldwide were selected to host the 1,092 Millennium Fellows. The Class of 2019 is bold, innovative, and inclusive. Their work is projected to positively impact the lives of nearly 1 million people worldwide this year.

Emmanuel Inganji and Maureen Wachira, Millennium Fellows for the Class of 2019, are contributing to the fight against global warming and advancing SDG 13: Climate Action through the Adopt a Tree Initiative.

Emmanuel and Maureen describe the challenges and triumphs of starting their initiative.

The Adopt a Tree Initiative was created in 2017, when we realized that the world is suffocating due to the high level of gas emissions that pollute the air. Kenya experiences extreme seasons of drought, floods and overall unpredictable weather patterns as a result of climate change. As time went by, we recognized that in addition to government policies it was important to take action ourselves to create change. We decided to set up the Adopt a Tree Initiative to advance SDG 13: Climate Action and SDG 15: Life on Land, and set the following goals: to educate the community on the importance of environmental protection, to plant 200,000 trees across the country, and to get schools to incorporate our educational materials in their curriculum.

Our main goal is to contribute to the government’s plan of reaching 15% forest coverage. Through Adopt a Tree, we engage community members by planting trees for them and assigning each member a tree to take care of until it reaches maturity. Each tree is named after the member that takes care of it, and this serves as an incentive for the members to commit to nurturing the trees. We see Adopt a Tree as part of a global community that fights climate change across the world and encourages community members to do their part.

Throughout the process we faced challenges including hesitation from community members, obtaining permission from local authorities, and getting the financial resources to purchase and plant the trees. However, these challenges made us even more determined to do our work and demand action from our government towards pollution reduction.

Adopt a Tree has planted 150,000 trees across the country, partnerships with various universities to host Tree Planting Days, planting trees in the Mau Forest as part of the 10 Million Trees Initiative to rehabilitate the Maasai Mau Forest, and a whole network of supporters.

Our main advice to future Millennium Fellows is to never give up. Not everyone supports our work. Many people find change difficult and may be against the activities that call for a change. What you will be embarking on, or may have already started, is not for the faint hearted. You might face more difficulties and challenges than you had anticipated, but don’t give up. Fight for what you know is right and what will have a positive impact on our communities, countries, continents and the world.

To learn more about the Fellows and their work, visit the Millennium Fellow Pages of Emmanuel and Maureen. You may reach out to Emmanuel via Facebook, LinkedIn and Maureen via Facebook, Twitter.