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Lesein Mutunkei from Nairobi, Kenya
Lesein Mutunkei from Nairobi, Kenya

Press release -

Announcing the first finalist of the 2021 Children’s Climate Prize: Lesein Mutunkei from Nairobi, Kenya

Five finalists will be announced for the 2021 Children’s Climate Prize and a winner is being presented later in November. The first finalist is Lesein Mutunkei, a 17 year-old from Nairobi, Kenya. His project, Trees For Goals (T4G), utilizes the power of soccer to highlight global deforestation, which is the second largest contributor to climate change today. Trees For Goals demonstrates how easy and inspiring it can be to get involved with climate-issues. Lesein’s connections between deforestation, climate, biodiversity and economy (with regard to forests as a future resource) impressed the jury.

Twenty-seven soccer fields worth of trees are cut down every minute! Global deforestation has major negative effects on the climate, environment, flora, fauna and humans. Seventeen-year-old Lesein Mutunkei from Nairobi wanted to do something about this, and, thus, created the Trees For Goals project. The framework of T4G is based on getting schools and soccer clubs committed to planting 11 trees for every goal scored in practices and games alike. Each tree represents the number of team members on the field. Lesein plays soccer and saw the opportunity to engage his peers in making a difference. When he received the news that he was a finalist this year, he was very happy.

– This is great news! I am so excited to be one of the 5 finalists of the Children Climate Prize! This inspires me to never give up on my goal to achieve a greener and cleaner future,
says Lesein Mutunkei.

    In cooperation with the County Government, each participating soccer club is allotted an area in a local forest to plant the total number of trees during the planting season. In addition, Lesein has been invited by Kenya’s Minister for the Environment to talk about the project, while the forestry manager has been tasked with supporting schools and clubs with plots of forest to start their own T4G programs. The forestry management agency also support the T4G project by providing accurate data on which trees to plant.

    Each team’s coach and captain are responsible for distributing information about the climate and environment to the team. These can consist of fun facts, tree species, the value of the trees, and the effects of deforestation, etc. In this sense, each player gets environmental and soccer training simultaneously. The jury was impressed by how Lesein managed to combine two very different worlds such as soccer and tree planting, and recognizes the potential in getting FIFA and the world’s top soccer players involved.

    Soccer is often referred to as the world’s most popular sport. According to the international soccer association, FIFA, more than 240 million people in 200 countries regularly play soccer, at different levels. Lesein’s own school and soccer club have started several T4G clubs and planted over 1,500 trees to date. The initiative has inspired thousands of young people to get involved with environmental conservation, and Lesein has now reached a broad audience through workshops and seminars. The goal, moving forward, is to spread the T4G initiative throughout Kenya, and thus reach the constitutional goal to cover at least 10% of the country with forest. The dream, however, is to get T4G adopted by FIFA, which could have a huge positive impact on the effects of climate change. What would be better than combating climate change as a global challenge and soccer as a universal sport?

    Trees For Goals (T4G) - Tackling climate change through soccer

    Lesein Mutunkei, 17 years old, from Nairobi, Kenya

    The jury’s motivation
    Deforestation and the depletion of forests account for approximately 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions – the second largest, following fossil fuel combustion. By combining passion for the universal game of soccer with climate work, Lesein presents how to mobilize a large number of people towards combating the negative effects of climate change in a simple, smart and innovative way. Thus, Lesein represents the soul of the award. The program is scalable, ambitious with a clear systemized approach, and has great potential to become a world phenomenon under conducive conditions and the right partners.

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    The Children’s Climate Prize is an international prize annually awarded to young people who have made extraordinary efforts for the climate and environment. The winners of the prize are celebrated at an award ceremony in November in Stockholm, Sweden. They receive a diploma, medal and prize money of SEK 100,000 to continue developing their projects. The prize was founded in 2016 by Telge Energi, the Swedish frontrunner in renewable energy.


    Amanda Bjursten

    Amanda Bjursten

    Press contact Press Contact +46708371430

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