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By GBM

The Green Belt Movement (GBM) is off to Cancun, Mexico to bring a clear message to the COP 16: trees and forests have a significant role to play in reducing the impact of climate change when governance, community livelihoods and rights, as well as biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, are kept central in any decision making.

From November 29th to December 10th, the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place in Cancun, Mexico.

The COP is the highest body of the UNFCCC and comprises of environment ministers from 192 countries who have met once a year since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.


Photo credit: UN Climate Change

This summit provides a unique opportunity for GBM to share with the world our grassroots experiences dealing with the effects of climate change.

To showcase this, GBM will be hosting a side event called “Women’s Leadership on Climate Change Justice and the Grassroots Perspective” in conjunction with the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, Nobel Women’s Initiative, and Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative and Climate Wise Women.

At this event prominent women leaders, including former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, will discuss strategies for women’s participation in high-level decision making for climate change alongside GBM staff who support grassroots groups on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), to strengthen the international network working towards climate justice.

Watch an interview with Mary Robinson from A Burning Question, as she attempts to minimize the confusion surrounding climate change:

"Women are, by necessity, the first-responders on the frontlines of climate change and are a powerful source of hope in developing effective mitigation and adaptation strategies. They must have a meaningful seat at any table where climate and development policy-making occur. As illustrated by the success of their many environmental initiatives worldwide, women continue to demonstrate their ability to create positive change even under the most challenging circumstances."
Wangari Maathai, Founder of GBMI and Noble Peace Prize Laureate

Stay tuned to Greenheroes.tv for more on the upcoming Cancun climate conference!

And for frequent updates from the Green Belt Movement team, follow them on Facebook!

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, it’s time to speak up:
Share your story of how you’re starting a discussion on climate change and the environment and how you’re making your voice heard by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero! Contest details and more information can be found here.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes
Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHeroes Campaigns
Sign up for our newsletter
Follow us on Twitter
Become our fan on Facebook



What is a greenbelt? In its most basic form, a greenbelt is a tract of land, green space, aside and apart from development and urban areas. Its purpose may be to protect and maintain valuable farmland and precious natural resources, like fresh water and trees.

Our GreenHero Wangari Maathai found a way to connect her community to its environment by recognizing the social, economic, and political issues they face in daily life.

She created the Green Belt Movement, a global organization that helps local communities by re-shaping and greening their environment through tree planting and building up green spaces.

Believe it or not, Ontario is home to the world’s largest greenbelt. Burkhard Mausberg, president of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation explains how Wangari’s Canadian equivalent has its own way of connecting with its civilians, and how vital it is to our everyday lives.

Just like Wangari’s tree-planting actions, the continued efforts to maintain and grow Ontario’s greenbelt are helping to build an environmental legacy of our own in Canada.


Gail Krantzberg, Professor and Director of the Centre for Engineering and Public Policy, The School of Engineering Practice, McMaster University


By Burkhard Mausberg

President of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation


Burkhard Mausberg hiking on the Bruce Trail

Working in the environmental field for over 22 years has taught me a few things. The most important is that awareness of solutions to green issues needs to grow amongst Canadians.

It really comes down to this: we live in a busy world – and many people juggle more balls in the air on a daily basis than ever before. There is this moment at the end of the day, when you sit down, take off your work clothes and think, “How is it already 7pm?”

So as environmentalists, we have to realize that people are busy and we shouldn’t be preaching to them. Instead we need to reach out on their level, their time, their values and what’s important to them.

Which brings us to what I’ve chosen to dedicate my time to over the last six years: Ontario’s Greenbelt. Simply said, the Greenbelt is a great thing for Ontario.

It’s a world-leading law that preserves prime farmland and green spaces around the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

It gives us clean water and healthy local food. It’s bigger than P.E.I. and. In fact, at 1.8 million acres it is the largest Greenbelt in the world.

From producing the Quilt of Possibilities with the Ontario Crafts Council, the Beyond Imaginings photo exhibition at the Harbourfront Centre, and Hockey Night in the Greenbelt events where we sponsor Ontario Hockey League games in the Greenbelt, we are able to connect with people on their turf.

By presenting people with tangible and memorable stories that incorporate into their daily lives in a way that is not heavy handed, awareness – raising is welcomed.

Among the great impact the Greenbelt makes environmentally and agriculturally, it also has some positive economic value. It saves Ontario Taxpayers $2.6 billion per year in environmental services like water filtration and waste treatment and it provides $5.4 billion to Ontario’s economy through farming and its food production.

Ninety per cent of Ontarians believe the Greenbelt is one of the most important contributions to the future of our Province and 88% say that even in hard economic times, upholding environmental policy is important.

As a recognized policy model for the world, the Greenbelt is a critical part of the solution to our environmental concerns and it has the possibility to change the region, our country and the world.

And it’s becoming much more than a land use policy; it’s a legacy that will significantly contribute to a healthier Ontario and reduce our impact on climate change.

Burkhard Mausberg, President of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation


For more information on Ontario’s Greenbelt, visit www.greenbelt.ca
You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, it’s time to speak up:
Share your story of how you’re starting a discussion on climate change and the environment and how you’re making your voice heard by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero! Contest details and more information can be found here.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes
Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHeroes Campaigns
Sign up for our newsletter
Follow us on Twitter
Become our fan on Facebook

By Savvy Insider

Click here to find out what else Savvy Insider is writing about.

Life often is tough and uncompromising.

And when you least expect it, serendipity comes calling.

Take the case of Wangari Maathai, the founder of the Green Belt Movement (GBM) in Kenya, Africa and a GreenHero.

The movement started off by paying groups of women in Kenya to plant trees. Recognizing that women in her community didn’t have firewood, water or a voice to take action, she founded the GBM, building on the idea that a single grassroots action can have widespread global effects.

It was those tree-planting efforts that started the United Nations One Billion Trees Campaign all over the world.

A lofty, noble and hard to achieve objective, to be sure.

Just when Maathai thought no one was listening to the message of her organization, her phone rang.

It was that call that gave credence to her efforts – she was the first ever environmentalist to be awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.

The simple act of planting a tree, and recognition of the linkage between environment, democracy, and peace, soon spread like wildfire across the globe, empowering other communities to protect their local environments and speak up for change.

Now, she’s devoted to bringing environmental issues to the world’s attention. She’ll be in Mexico this November for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Stay tuned for more on Wangari’s work, and start Talking Climate Change. In the fight for environmental protection, we can’t sit idly. Raise your voice!

You can catch Wangari on TVO Tuesday, November 23rd at 7 pm ET as well as Saturday, November 27th at 4 pm ET, read more about Episode 4 here.

“It is the people who must save the environment. It is the people who must make their leaders change. And we cannot be intimidated. So we must stand up for what we believe in.”

– Wangari Maathai

Article orignally published in the Savvy Insider on Friday, Nov. 19, 2010

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, it’s time to speak up:
Share your story of how you’re starting a discussion on climate change and the environment and how you’re making your voice heard by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero! Contest details and more information can be found here.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes

Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHeroes Campaigns

Sign up for our newsletter

Follow us on Twitter

Become our fan on Facebook

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