Non-Aligned Movement has continuously reaffirmed that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our times, threatening not only the development prospects of developing countries and their achievement of sustainable development, but also the very existence and survival of countries and societies, and expressed profound concern that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise globally.
NAM Member States are cognizant of the facts that impacts of climate change are an obstacle for achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication and for enabling economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner. Therefore they have highlighted that the vulnerability of countries to the impacts of climate change challenges, the losses and damage related to these impacts impedes the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement are committed to tackle climate change and preserve the environment. They have undertaken a number of measures towards ensuring a healthy environment. One such prominent initiative recently undertaken is by Ethiopia under country’s ambitious Green Legacy Program, a national go green campaign, endeavouring to raise the public’s awareness about Ethiopia’s frightening environmental degradation and, educate society on the importance of adapting green behaviour. The initiative involves planting various types of eco-friendly seedling to combat environmental degradation and, a national platform that will be used for various societal green activities.
The “Green legacy”, which was officially initiated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on May 26, 2019, is a national 4 billion trees planting project which aims to decrease the shock of climate change and endorse afforestation. The campaign is a welcome step considering the fact that as per the estimates by the United Nations, Ethiopia’s forest coverage has declined drastically to a low of just 4 per cent in the 2000s from 35 per cent a century earlier. This rapid deforestation is attributed to Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population and the need for more farmlands, unsustainable forest use and climate change. The Green Legacy initiative aims at planting 200 million trees in a single day in 1,000 sites across Ethiopia. The initiative has achieved landmark success as manifested by the fact that 353 million trees were planted on the country during a period of 12 hours on 20 July 2019. The reforestation campaign was headed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Within the first six hours of the plantation drive, Ahmed tweeted that around 150 million trees had been planted. “We’re halfway to our goal,” he said and encouraged Ethiopians to “build on the momentum in the remaining hours.”
After the 12-hour period ended, the Prime Minister took to Twitter again to announce that Ethiopia not only met its “collective #GreenLegacy goal,” but exceeded it. A total of 353,633,660 tree seedlings had been planted, according to the country’s Minister for Innovation and Technology, Getahun Mekuria. Another landmark was achieved on 29 July 2019 as state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate announced more than 224 million trees were planted on the day, surpassing the initial goal of 200 million trees planted in one day.
The Green Legacy initiative for reforestation has received appreciation from various multilateral organisations as well as experts working in the field of environment protection. Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, Director of UN Environment’s Africa Office remarked: “Afforestation is the most effective climate change solution to date and with the new record set by Ethiopia, other African nations should move with speed and challenge the status quo”.
Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Secretary Vera Songwe lauded the tree planting efforts and said, “By greening the country, Ethiopia is leading the Continent in achieving SDG 15 to combat climate change, protect biodiversity and strengthen natural resources management. It is also doing so to increase overall productivity of both land oceans.” She urged more countries to follow Ethiopia’s example.
By Dr. Ankit Srivastava