I meet people all over Tanzania, and they say to me, "Well, it taught me that the environment is terribly important and I must try and preserve it. I'm getting my children involved Roots & Shoots in their school." In China, where we have about 2,000 groups, people tell me, "Well, of course, I care about the environment because I was in your Roots & Shoots program in primary school. Of course, I care about animals, I watched your documentaries about chimpanzees when I was in primary school."
I find that young people — when they know the problem, when you listen to them, when they're then empowered to take action — they just roll up their sleeves and get out there and go to work. And, as young people learn more, they are influencing their parents, they're influencing their grandparents — and some of them already are in high positions.
You very often hear that we haven't inherited this planet from our parents; we've borrowed it from our children. But, the way we're living today, we're stealing. We have been stealing for years, and we're still stealing their future today. In many places, we are using up more of the finite natural resources of the planet than nature can replenish. People have to start thinking. We have a window of opportunity for making some changes, for slowing down climate change. But it's going to require much more effort.
As told to THINK editor Megan Carpentier, edited and condensed for clarity.