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Our Inspiration

For many, religious and non-religious alike, the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu are sources of great inspiration. Greta Thunberg is today’s example of the new generation taking a stand for climate change.

The Dalai Lama

Greta Thunberg

Desmond Tutu

The Dalai Lama

Tenzin Gyatso, known as the Dalai Lama, describes himself as, “A simple Buddhist monk.” He was born in Tibet on July 6, 1935.  After China invaded Tibet in 1950, he was called upon to assume full political power for the Tibetan people. He was just 15 years of age.

In 1959, Chinese troops brutally suppressed the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa.  This forced the Dalai Lama to escape into exile.  He has been living in Dharamsala, northern India, since then.

The Dalai Lama is known universally as a man of peace. He promotes the cultivation of warm-heartedness coupled with human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment, and self-discipline.

In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his nonviolent campaign for the liberation of Tibet.  Additionally, the Dalai Lama became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems.

The Dalai Lama has long encouraged humanity to embrace a caring attitude towards the environment.  He says that, by referring to our planet as our, “House,” or as, “Mother Earth,” we automatically feel concerned for our environment.

Today, we understand that the future of humanity very much depends on our planet and that the future of the planet very much depends on humanity.

“We must accept this. If we unbalance nature, humankind will suffer. Furthermore, as people alive today, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other. It is therefore part of our responsibility towards others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy, if not healthier, than when we found it. This is not quite such a difficult proposition as it might sound. For although there is a limit to what we as individuals can do, there is no limit to what a universal response might achieve. It is up to us as individuals to do what we can, however little that may be.”

For many, religious and non-religious alike, the Dalai Lama is a source of great inspiration. As a global initiative, we are delighted to offer our efforts with the wish that he may live a healthy and long life continuing to unite and inspire us to act as one world family.     

Betty Williams, the Dalai Lama, Shirin Ebadi, Mairead Maguire and Lech Walesa planting a tree after the 13th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Warsaw, Poland on October 23, 2013. (Photo by Jeremy Russell/OHHDL). Read the complete article on dalailama.com

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg has become the world’s most famous teenager.  She is known for her campaigning all over the world against climate change.

In 2018, at the age of 16, she began protesting outside Sweden’s Parliament igniting the #FridaysForFuture moment This motivated children (and adults) internationally to start taking more action against environmental issues.

She has published three books, was named one of the 100 most influential people by Time, as well as becoming their Person of the Year. Even Prince Charles has described her as “remarkable”.

She may be young, but Greta has become a global icon for her fearless, hard-hitting speeches and wise words. Here, we round up some of her best…

“I have learned you are never too small to make a difference.”

In her speech at the UN COP24 Climate Talks in 2018, Greta gave a few home truths about leaders remarking that they only speak of “green eternal economic growth” to remain popular; she said that they are not “mature enough”.

“When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning!”

In August 2020, Greta spoke in an Instagram post about having Asperger’s Syndrome. She boasted that being different is a “superpower.”

“Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming whether you like it or not.”

At the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23, 2019, Greta told world leaders that future generations will not let them get away with so little action against climate change: “Together and united, we are unstoppable.”

Three days earlier, Greta led a climate strike.  This was the largest climate strike in history.  Over 2,500 events were scheduled in more than 163 countries on all seven continents.  It was attended by an estimated four million people.  Around 250,000 people came out to chant for Greta in New York.

Having traveled halfway across the Atlantic by sailboat, Greta delivered a stirring speech to Congress on September 20, 2019.

Energized by Martin Luther King she declared: “I have a dream that the people in power, as well as the media, start treating this crisis like the existential emergency it is.”

Greta Thunberg is a celebrated model of determination, inspiration, and positive action.  She speaks for a lot of young people who rightfully worry about the future of our planet.  The Global Tree Initiative stands in solidarity with Greta’s wish for positive change through positive solutions.


Photos Greta Thunberg: Charlotte Gekiere / Getty Images and Kenzo Tribouillard / Getty Images.

Desmond Tutu (1931–2021)

Speaking on his 89 birthday, October 7, 2020, he commented that today, there are those who, “Profit from the rising temperatures, seas and human suffering caused by the burning of fossil fuels.”

“We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow,” warned Desmond Tutu. Without action… “there will be no tomorrow.”

“Over the 25 years that climate change has been on the world’s agenda, global emissions have risen unchecked, while real-world impacts have taken hold in earnest.”

Time is running out, he said. “We are already experiencing loss of life and livelihoods because of intensified storms, the shortage of fresh water, the spread of disease, and rising food prices. The most devastating effects are visited on the poor, those with no involvement in creating the problem — a deep injustice.”

Born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, South Africa, Desmond Tutu became the first Black Anglican Archbishop of both Cape Town and Johannesburg.

In 1984, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in resolving and ending apartheid.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, he has been bestowed numerous awards, including the Pacem in Terris Award, the Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award, the Lincoln Leadership Prize, and the Gandhi Peace Prize.

Desmond Tutu enjoyed a close friendship with the Dalai Lama, one of our Global Tree Initiative (GTI) environmental heroes.

The Dalai Lama shares that “Archbishop Desmond Tutu was entirely dedicated to serving his brothers and sisters for the greater common good. He was a true humanitarian and a committed advocate of human rights. His work for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was an inspiration for others around the world.”

In 2016, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined over 270 leaders of the world’s major religions to express support for strong climate action:

“Caring for the Earth is our shared responsibility.”

In South Africa, there is a well-known Zulu proverb called Ubuntu. It means “I am a person through other people. My humanity is tied to yours.”

Desmond Tutu explained Ubuntu this way: “One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu — the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness… We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

The GTI is inspired and driven by the wisdom of Desmond Tutu, and his explanation of Ubuntu.


“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu.

The Dalai Lama and Greta Thunberg met at: A Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback LoopsJanuary 9, 2021


Recording now available