Reconciliation between humanity, nature

My generation was very stupid. My generation declared war on nature — with climate change, with the loss of biodiversity, with pollution. Nature is striking back. Striking back with storms, with desertification with floods, with disasters that are making life very difficult for many people around the world and causing many victims.

Your generation has an important task to make peace with nature. And what we are going to do today must be a gesture of that new attitude to make peace with nature.

I want to tell you my story with trees.

My grandfather, maternal grandfather’s family name was Oliveira. In Portuguese it means “olive tree.” I inherited that family name. I’m called Oliveira Guterres, my two family names. And one day, my grandfather came with me to a small field and showed me a small olive tree. I was a boy — a small boy — and he told me, “I planted this olive tree the day you were born, and I want you for all your life to respect trees and remember that you have a sister tree. This tree should be a symbol of your own life.”

I must say, I was very happy to know this because in my country, we have olive trees with more than 1,000 years, so I don’t intend to live a thousand years. But I’m happy that I have a sister olive tree that will be there much longer after I die.

So, one billion trees in Mongolia will make an enormous difference in relation to climate change, in relation to biodiversity, in relation to desertification. It will be the symbol of reconciliation between humanity and nature, because only with harmony between humanity and nature there will be a future for this planet.


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ remarks at the One Billion Tree campaign planting event in Mongolia.

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