National Earth Day Theme:Re-greening for Food Security, adaptation to Climate Change & Poverty Reduction
Earth Day is the largest, most celebrated environmental event worldwide. For over 4o years, Earth Day (April 22) has been a valuable tool for inspiring and mobilizing citizens and organizations to demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection and sustainability. Earth Day 2012 unites people of all nationalities and background around the world, in a global celebration of the Earth’s gifts while spreading awareness about important environmental issues including climate change, environmental degradation, environmental health, renewable energy, and etc. This year’s Earth Day theme is “Mobilize the Earth”. This theme is designed to provide people with the opportunity to unite their voices in a call for a sustainable future and direct them toward quantifiable outcomes.
Earth Day has been celebrated for 42nd times at international level. Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center and Network (HoA-REC/N) with its partners CCF-E, FFE, PHE Ethiopia Consortium, Farm Africa/SOS Sahel Ethiopia and African Re-greening Initiatives organized a workshop to commemorate the nation’s 4th time Earth Day on April 24-25 at Ghion Hotel. The local Theme of Earth Day takes an indigenous turn by making a call for remedial actions to treat the aching environment with “Re-greening for Food Security, Adaptation to Climate Change and Poverty Reduction” to identify a platform which strengthen and scale up the best practices of integrated rehabilitation and re-greening programs in different parts of the country to help implementing the nation’s plan to re-green 15 million hectare.
Dr Girma Balcha, the Executive Director of Climate Change Forum-Ethiopia (CCF-E) in his welcoming speech, noted that this national workshop on Ethiopian Re-greening Initiatives, which is in line with the Great Green Wall Initiative that is well accepted and endorsed both by the governments including Ethiopia and the Civil Societies, will have a significant contribution to our efforts of environmental protection, food security and poverty alleviation.” According to Dr Girma Balcha, researches have shown that Ethiopia is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change among the Sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr Araya Asfaw, the Executive Director of Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network (HoA-REC/N) in his key note address pinpointed that the five year Growth and Transformation Plan of the country envisions a clean development and has set two major milestones: achieving food security by increasing agricultural production and productivity and reforesting 15 million hectares of degraded land. He further stated, this plan seem contradictory since agriculture expansion has been considered the major driver of deforestation and land degradation. Hence, the theme of the Earth Day celebration: "Re-greening for Food Security, Adaptation to Climate Change and Poverty Reduction", therefore would make sense which is in line with the nation's climate Resilience Green Economy Strategy and helps the government’s target to plant 100 million Faidherbia albida trees and strengthen Evergreen Agriculture..
Climate change is an issue that is presenting a challenge for global development. In his opening remark, the Netherlands Ambassador to Ethiopia His Excellency Mr Blankenberg explained that the myth that economic growth will under all circumstances have to be sacrificed if the environment is to be saved is largely untrue - and happily so, as countries like Ethiopia can surely not afford to abandon growth. He further added that investing in re-greening now will lead to a tremendous material benefit in the foreseeable future; and especially when technology comes to clever, climate-adapted agriculture, is basically available and waiting to be applied more broadly, with increased productivity and growth as a result.
The State Minister of Agriculture, H.E. Ato Seleshi Getahun in his opening speech underlined the significance of the 2012 national Earth Day celebration which is about planning and agreeing on practical actions for re-greening the earth for food security, adaptation to climate change and poverty reduction as the country is in the process of massive land management program to secure soil, water, biodiversity and the like as component of climate smart agriculture for subsequent increase in agricultural production.
During these two days Earth Day commemoration workshop, a number of best re-greening practices in Ethiopia ranging from highland to lowland and from forest to rangeland that are low cost, community based and effective were presented by various civil society organizations, academic institutions and individuals. The successful agro-forestry experiences of Niger through Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) and the Satoyama initiative of Japan in biodiversity conservation and rural development through sustainable management of natural resources were also presented to policy makers, implementers and researchers. These experiences were solidified with two presentations on recent advances and future opportunities in creating an Evergreen Agriculture in Africa and tools for scaling up re-greening successes.
Distinguished panelists also raised issues which are related with re-greening of our degraded landscapes. These include re-greening initiatives & its linkage with the Great Green Wall, Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLMP), the linkage of population, food security and climate change, Climate Resilient Green Growth strategy of Ethiopia (CRGE), REDD+ and RIO+20 and the Ethiopian CSO’s preparation. In closing, the workshop participants agreed to bring together the fragmented pieces of successful initiatives together and to have them scaled up across the nation. As a second phase, a series of experience sharing field visits and establishing a national re-greening network will unfold in the coming months as part of the 2012 Ethiopian Earth Day celebration.