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Somalia commits $10 million to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss

Somalia has committed USD $10 million to tackle the triple challenge of desertification, climate change and biodiversity losses partly blamed for destroying lives and creating hunger in the Horn of Africa country. 

“Today we officially launch the Great Green Wall Initiative (GGWI) in Somalia and announce our financial commitment of 10 million dollars which will be part of our country’s allocation from the adaption fund in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development,” said Somalia’s President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, during the launch of the initiative in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. 

The GGWI is a Pan-African flagship programme of the African Union. It was established in 2007 and aims at tackling desertification, climate change and loss of biodiversity through a broad belt of green projects from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa. 

“Somalia’s succession to the Great Green Wall Initiative is a significant milestone in our country’s commitment to addressing climate change and environmental degradation that has caused so much suffering to our people,” the President added. 

The meeting was attended by key officials from the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), the United Nations and international partners. 

Following the launch, Somalia becomes the latest member state of the African Union to join the GGWI which already boasts of 36 countries from the Sahara, Sahel, Horn of Africa and Southern Africa drylands.

GGWI is expected to boost President Mohamud’s, ‘Regreening Somalia’ Initiative launched in October last year to plant 10 million trees to boost biodiversity and climate resilience and help combat the repeated cycles of devastating droughts in the country. 

Speaking on behalf of the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union and Head of ATMIS, Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine Souef, ATMIS Police Commissioner, Hillary Sao Kanu, said the Mission will continue to support the FGS in its efforts to regreen the country. 

“At the mission level, ATMIS has resolved to integrate environmental issues in all its operations. The decision is in line with the commitment made by ATMIS and UNSOS (United Nations Support Office in Somalia) during the 23rd session of the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency held in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the year,” observed Kanu. 

“ATMIS with the support of UNSOS has already pledged to plant 30,000 trees around some 58 Forward Operating Bases before our final exit next year,” the ATMIS Police Commissioner added. 

Elvis Tangem, the Coordinator of GGWI described the launch as historic emphasizing that Somalia was joining its neighbours, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Eritrea – founding members of the initiative – to combat the effects of climate change.

“It is now time for action, we want to see all other restoration initiatives done by private individuals, NGOs, and government, all implemented as one – GGWI Somalia,” Dr Tangem noted. 

Somalia’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Khadija Al-Makhzoumi, said the initiative would go a long way to solving the climate-related challenges facing Somalia. 

“We hope this project will go a long way towards assisting Somalia in solving its challenges, which include deforestation and the climate crisis,” said Al-Makhzoumi. 

Africa is increasingly exposed to climate shocks, though it only contributes about 4 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Through GGWI, the African Union hopes to restore a total of 910 million hectares of degraded land by 2063, with a midterm vision of restoring 100 million hectares of currently degraded land, sequester 250 million tons of carbon and create 10 million green jobs by 2030 across the Sahel region and drylands of the continent.

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