By Abiy Ahmed (PhD)
ADDIS ABABA – In 2019, we embarked on an ambitious goal we were confident would mobilize millions around the country. It would be so transformational that the Impact would be felt for generations to come.
Goal setting has been critical to the reforms we were undertaking as a nation. Reforms meant examining the manner in which we have been planning and executing as a government – and going beyond.
We set out to build an exclusive process that will enable a large section of society to be custodians of such a grand national initiative first by participating in the execution and then by being custodians for the future.
The Green legacy initiative, we launched in June of 2019, is rooted in a vision of building a green and climate resilient Ethiopia. We set a target of planting 20 billion seedlings within a period of four years.
By the third year, we had succeeded in planting close to 18 billion seedlings by mobilizing More than 20 million citizens, throughout the nation.
There are two particularly significant milestones during this three year period that am worthy of note.
The first was on July 29, 2019 when we challenged the nation to plant 200 million seedlings within a 12-hour span. From East to West and North to South, the nation mobilized and exceeded the challenge by planting 354 million seedlings.
The second moment was two years later. On June 21, 2021, we once again challenged Ethiopians to go out and plant in a single day.
The circumstances for this challenge were unique. On this historic day, millions of Ethiopians went out, stood in line and waited to cast their votes in Ethiopia’s first democratic election. They not only exercised their democratic rights through the ballot, but also heeded the call and planted their green print after.
These two milestone moments, together with efforts citizens have been making by responding to each year’s Green legacy challenge, have set into pace the development of a green culture in Ethiopia.
The prevailing environmental context around the country when we launched this initiative was a staggering rate of land degradation due to deforestation, among other causes. Inevitably, when we set out on the Green Legacy initiative, clear outcomes we expected included combatting the effects of climate change; restoring degraded landscapes and forests; promoting a green culture and ecotourism; as well as Improving the livelihoods of citizens.
As it pertains to tackling deforestation, Green Legacy as a movement has been instrumental in creating public awareness, thereby leading to significant decline in the rate of deforestation over the past couple of years.
Ethiopia is gravely affected by the consequences of climate change and is considered a climate vulnerable country. Our immediate and practical approach to addressing climate change, is the Green Legacy initiative.
While literally sowing the seeds today, we have no doubt these seeds will bear fruit across generations and contribute to reducing carbon emissions, decreasing water and air pollution, increasing rains in dry areas and preventing flooding and landslides.
The latter two occurrences especially devastate soil nutrient by aggravating erosion and hence enhancing our green coverage is considered essential.
As a nation, Ethiopia has achieved numerous gains through the Green Legacy initiative. While millions participate in planting every year, the proliferation of nursery sites throughout the country has enabled job creation for various sections of society.
Over 183 thousand permanent and temporary jobs have been created as a direct outcome of greening endeavours. In addition, an annually improving survival rate of around 80% is contributing to the creation of new forests.
Now in its fourth year, the Green Legacy program for 2022 will be launched on June 21st with a target of planting 6 billion seedlings during this rainy season. 7.2 billion seedlings have been prepared of which 52% account for agroforestry trees. Forestry trees on the other hand account for 42% of seedlings prepared and the remaining are ornamental trees.
Achieving this year’s planned target will catapult us way above the four-year goal of planting 20 billion seedlings.
Through Ethiopia’s Green Legacy, we are laying the foundation for multidimensional prosperity by leaving a climate smart generational legacy. The energy we have harnessed in this process is a key learning to be applied to yielding greater results in our agriculture productivity. Ours is a success story and experience to share with others in Africa and beyond.
As we launch the 2022 Green Legacy planting season, I extend my invitation to all Ethiopians to once again demonstrate our ability to mobilize for a generational cause. The green Print we leave today will survive us.
To our African brothers and sisters, join us in making Green Legacy a content-wide phenomenon, covering our beloved Africa in green.
To international partners, we ask you to contribute to the continued success and reach of the Green Legacy initiative.
May God Bless Ethiopia and her children.
Abiy Ahmed(PhD), Prime Minister of Ethiopia, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.
Editor’s note: The article reflects the authors’ opinion only, and not necessarily the views of the editorial opinion of EM News.