With an ambitious target of planting 200 million trees a day, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's Green Legacy Project, if successful, will not only break the world record but go a long way in the country's fight against climate change.
Deforestation is the immediate cause of loss of biodiversity but the underlying causes are wrong development policies and plundering by local and multi-national companies over the years.
These have brought about inequalities in land distribution and use and caused insecure land tenure; unsustainable commercial exploitation of the rainforests for timber, disruptive schemes such as large-scale ranches among others. Ethiopian Prime Minister understands this all too well hence his ambitious Green Legacy Project.
What is the Green Legacy Project?
It is a national project that aims to have four billion trees planted before the end of the rainy season, ith an expectation for every Ethiopian to plant a minimum of 40 trees. In the last few months alone, at least 2.6 billion trees have been planted which amounts to 60% of the project's target.
The motivation behind the Prime Minister's project is the need to create awareness about the importance of fighting environmental degradation in the country. The
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Ethiopia’s forest coverage has fallen from 35% of the total land in the early 20th Century to a little above 4% in the 2000s. This is indeed a cause of concern as it indicates steady destruction of the country's forests.
There is no doubt that climate change is one of the biggest threats of our time. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) secretariat recognises this and is scheduled to hold a two-day training workshop on July 30 -31,2019.
The workshop seeks to build capacity for member states in what it is calling ‘target indicator tracking and implementation’ of the Transparency Clause of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
All COMESA member states, of which Ethiopia is one, have ratified the Paris Agreement of 2015 and are committed to finding a lasting and sustainable solution to the challenge of climate change.
The transparency provisions of the Paris Agreement require developing countries to regularly monitor, analyse, and report their national GHG emissions and removals, provide information necessary to track progress towards achieving their nationally determined contributions, provide information related to climate change adaptation and mitigation and to provide information on financial, technology transfer and capacity-building support needed and received.
It is not just COMESA that recognises this threat, but the Southern African Development Community (SADC) also shares the former's position.
During the 9th session of the Namibia-Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission Cooperation in Windhoek, Executive Director at the Ministry of International Relations Selma Ashipala Musavyi stated as follows:
It is time to call for the full implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, and for all state parties to honour their commitments particularly to small states that are at the receiving end of climate calamities.”
Abiy's Green Legacy Project could therefore not have come at an opportune time. Various agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP) have applauded the Prime Minister's efforts as a positive step in the fight against climate change. WFP further stated that the project is critical for Ethiopia given the fact that it had lost billions of trees and forest resources over the years.
Last week, the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture announced that 200 million tree seedlings had been successfully distributed throughout the country in a bid to make today's tree planting exercise a success.
Leading the tree planting exercise was the Prime Minister who planted a few seedlings, mostly indigenous species, in Arba Minch in southern Ethiopia. Public offices in the capital Addis Ababa were shut down to allow civil servants to participate in the exercise.
If Abiy succeeds in this ambitious project, Ethiopia will be on its way to breaking the world record for the most trees planted in a single day. Presently, India holds this record which stands at 49.3 million trees. This record was set on July 11, 2016.
World record or not, the most important thing is that Ethiopia has taken a bold step in reclaiming its forests and fighting climate change. This time, it is not the environmentalists leading the charge but the Prime Minister himself meaning that at the very least all the years of lobbying have not been for nought.
Header Image Credit: Addis Fortune