This summer will see up to one thousand young people fundraising for ITF as they attempt the Barcelona Express: a 5-day hitchhiking race starting from Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. The race will aim to raise enough money to plant 100,000 trees as part of ITF’s Centenary Campaign to plant 20 million trees in Kenya. Most places in the competition have been taken but there’s still time to sign up!
Organised by Belgian alternative travel experts Route du Soleil (RdS), Barcelona Express has run for seven years, raising thousands of Euros for charity – initially for a Belgian homeless organisation. This year, to reflect the race’s new international scope, RDS wanted to support a charity with a more global impact. Charles Van den Bossche, RdS Director, contacted ITF with the ambition of planting a ‘record number of trees’. This was the first time ITF had been approached by such an unusual and ambitious project. We are excited to be a part of the adventure!
On the road to a better future
The event raises money via a registration fee paid by contestants or by their collective sponsors. All the profits from the event will be donated to ITF’s Centenary Campaign, “20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests”.. The campaign aims to plant 20 million trees in and around Kenya’s highland forests by 2024 when ITF will mark its 100th year. This campaign will contribute to forest restoration, climate change mitigation and sustainable healthy livelihoods for local people.
Andy Egan, ITF’s Chief Executive, said: “Route du Soleil are making a great contribution to the 20 Million Trees campaign through the Barcelona Express Challenge. It’s a great opportunity for young people to be involved in doing something truly positive for the global environment. If the target of £25,000 is raised, it will enable us to plant 100,000 trees to re-forest around 100 hectares of land. This will make a real difference to the degraded ecosystem and improve prospects for people in Kenya affected by the results of deforestation.”
A different way to travel
Beginning on July 4th, the Barcelona Express race consists of several stages, passing by famous monuments and landmarks. Contestants take part in teams of 2 or 3. Teams must compete to get from checkpoint to checkpoint in the fastest time purely by hitching lifts. Participants will be required to follow safety precautions and their progress will be tracked to minimise risks. For the team with the fastest time, every team member will receive the awesome prize of a trip around the world!
As well as offering a unique and fun travel experience and the opportunity to compete for a fantastic prize while raising money for 20 Million Trees, Barcelona Express is breaking down some of the fears surrounding hitch-hiking and car-sharing. While hitch-hiking in Europe has seen a marked decline since the beginning of the century due to changing attitudes, car-sharing applications such as BlaBlaCar are increasingly popular; particularly in places like France where long-distance travel between remote areas can be hard to co-ordinate.
Car-sharing and hitch-hiking are among the greenest ways to travel long distances, producing minimal extra CO2 and pollutants per person compared to other methods. (They also provide companionship, helping to break down barriers and challenge the insular modern attitude we often have towards fellow travellers or other strangers.) By choosing a tree-planting initiative like 20 Million Trees to receive the proceeds from Barcelona Express, RdS are showing their commitment to making travel environmentally sound, fun and accessible.
ITF are excited to be partnering with Route du Soleil for Barcelona Express. The funds raised will create long term benefits for the environment and local communities. Places in the competition are going fast – if you like the sound of this challenge or would like to find out more, visit: http://www.barcelonaexpress.org/be17