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November 26, 2021
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Marleen Hitzeroth

Youth Summit 2021: 3 Days of Inspiration, Creativity and Exchange

Once a year, inspiring young people from all over the world gather for our special event called Youth Summit. They have the chance to network, exchange ideas and experiences of how to become active against the climate crisis, being creative in several workshops and listening to various speeches from inside and outside of Plant-for-the-Planet. In 2021, the virtual Youth Summit took place from October 22 to 24 and brought together more than 50 young people from around the world. Let’s review what the three event days were all about! 

Day 1: Introduction, IPCC, Creative Sessions and Inspirational Coaching

The kick-off for the worldwide youth gathering was on Friday afternoon with our pre-program: Participants could either listen to our introduction session on “What is Plant-for-the-Planet”, or enter one of the breakout rooms for informal exchange or join this day’s well-being session. The official Youth Summit 2021 program started with Greetings from our Executive Board, followed by an interesting perspective on the current IPCC report by one of our Climate Justice Ambassadors Chiagozie Udeh.

After the first session it was time for team introductions. In two separate breakout sessions, the Yucatán Restoration Project in Mexiko and the Plant-for-the-Planet developers from India introduced themselves and their ongoing projects.

Afterwards, the first creative sessions of the event took place: The participants could choose between writing a letter to a country of choice with environmental difficulties it is facing and how to tackle them or picking a song and drawing a fitting short comic.

For the following post-program we were very happy to once again welcome Craig Goldblatt. He is an inspirational impact coach, who taught us how to create a better version of ourselves and use this power to become even better leaders for our vision. His inspirational speech was the perfect ending for the day.

Day 2: Inside Plant-for-the-Planet worldwide and Mental Health 

The second day started again with the two pre-programm rooms, followed by a session of Felix Finkbeiner, founder of Plant-for-the-Planet and Member of the Board of Directors, who informed us about the latest changes and overall status of the Plant-for-the-Planet Foundation, the Transparency Report 2020 and the restoration project in Mexico. This session was followed by the long-awaited announcement of the new elected members of the Global Board 2021/2022. 

Then it was time for another Plant-for-the-Planet team introduction: The Plant-for-the-Planet Secretary and the Global Board, followed by five breakout sessions where our national entities from Ghana, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Italy, Czech Republic and further entities presented their work and upcoming projects. Another highlight of the program was the presentation of our CTO Sagar Aryal who gave us some special insights about current projects at Plant-for-the-Planet. 

After another round of creative sessions and the daily wrap up it was time for the last topic of the day: A workshop led by Fernanda Rodriguez Lavalle that was all about  “How to take care of your mental health while being a social activist”.

Day 3: Keynotes from UNFCCC & UNEP, Taking Action and our Vision

On the third and last day of the Youth Summit 2021 participants had the chance to listen to some very special guests: 

Dr Koko Warner, Manager, Vulnerability subdivision, Adaptation division at UNFCCC, who held a keynote on “International Climate Negotiations and their Importance for Reducing Vulnerability to Climate Change”. After her keynote, she joined the discussion with the participants on climate action and climate change and shared some very interesting personal experiences. Next up was Tim Christophersen, Head, Nature for Climate Branch, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), with his presentation on Ecosystem Restoration, Forestry and the UN Decade.

After these two powerful keynotes, the participants had the chance to take action in different group works on social media campaigns, local activities and on-site actions at events. These workshops were followed by a presentation of Frithjof Finkbeiner who gave an overview of the vision for Plant-for-the-Planet and an introduction of our new full-time Member of the Board of Directors, Dr Thilo Pfletschinger, who will join Plant-for-the-Planet in January 2022.

After three amazing days of inspiration, creativity and international exchange, it was finally time for a networking party to discuss ideas and of course, to stay in contact with the other participants in the long term. 

Finally, we want to express a big thank you to all of our guest speakers and coaches, who shared their knowledge with us and made this special Youth Summit enriching and valuable! Also a big thanks to our Secretariat for the amazing organization and implementation.

And an especially big thank you goes to all of our participants, who stayed with us during these three intense days and who made this year’s Youth Summit vibrant, full of energy and filled with many creative ideas.

If you are curious now and want to know more about the Youth Summit 2021 check out our YouTube channel. Soon you will find some videos highlighting the best talks there. 

If you want to join our global network and become part of our youth-led organization, we welcome you to get in touch with us! Just write to us at info@plant-for-the-planet.org