‘Planting a Greener Future’ initiative launched

Mon 14-10-2019 – WAM/Tariq alfaham

DUBAI, 14th October, 2019 (WAM) — Today, on Arab Environment Day, Emirates Environmental Group,EEG, in collaboration with McDonald’s UAE, inaugurated the latest phase of their ‘Planting a Greener Future’ initiative.

The educational-urban-afforestation program will engage governmental schools across all seven Emirates and deliver a robust educational program designed to prepare students for the future and adopt a responsible and ethical approach to the environment.

Aligned with a number of national and international sustainability strategies, ‘Planting a Greener Future’ compliments several of the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals,UN SDG. On a national level, it supports the “Sustainable Environment and Infrastructure” chapter included in UAE Vision 2021 national agenda.

Launched in line with Arab Environment Day, 350 indigenous trees will be planted over the next year as part of Phase 3. The move is aimed at increasing green spaces in schools, educating the students on issues pertaining to climate action, developing habitats within urban environments for local flora and fauna, to create nature based solution to combat issues such as air pollution, desertification and urban heat island effect.

A curriculum of interactive educational workshops under the theme of “Elements Define Us” inspired by Fire, Air, Water and Land, will each address a specific issue varying from food security, renewable energy, plastic pollution and climate change.

Commenting on the latest phase of ‘Planting a Greener Future’, Habiba Al Mar’ashi, Chairperson at Emirates Environmental Group, highlighted the importance of Urban Afforestation by saying: “Planting indigenous trees in urban areas across the UAE is crucial to improving the environmental ecosystem and infrastructure. Our ambition is to not only make strides in meeting the targets of UAE Vision 2021’s Sustainable Environment and Infrastructure chapter but also to supporting the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. We are proud to be working alongside our long-standing partner, McDonald’s UAE, to educate the future generation and play an active role in improving energy conservation, air pollution management, carbon sequestration and biodiversity enhancement.”



Regional experts adopt joint programme to address land degradation issue in Central Asia

Kazakh News

NUR-SULTAN – More than 70 scientists, politicians and experts from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan developed a common programme to solve problems related to biodiversity conservation, land degradation and climate change at a regional trialogue Oct. 9-11 in Almaty.

Central Asia has arid and semi-arid areas characterised by serious transboundary desertification, reported the press service of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kazakhstan. According to preliminary estimates, 4-10 percent of cultivated land, 27-68 percent of pastureland and 1-8 percent of forest land are subject to destructive processes. The area of ​​degraded land in each country of Central Asia ranges from 40 to 90 percent. 

In Kazakhstan, degradation problems affect from 4 to 10 percent of cultivated land, from 20 to 60 percent of pastures and up to 8 percent of the forest land. It relates to cattle grazing or non-compliance with norms on grazing areas, insufficient irrigation and irrational use of water. Kazakhstan is almost entirely located in desert and semi-desert zones, so the land is very vulnerable.

“Economy of Central Asian countries are largely based on agriculture, which makes up 10-38 percent of GDP and provides 18-65 percent of the population’s employment, which makes it dependent on natural resources. Desertification affects 66 percent of the land in Kazakhstan. There is an urgent need to take preventive measures to prevent further land degradation and take measures to restore and further ensure rational use of natural resources including land and water,” said National Coordinator of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in Kazakhstan Kairat Ustemirov.

One of the priority areas to solve environmental problems is to increase the efficiency of natural resources and support the green economy.

“Kazakhstan is pursuing a state policy in the field of combating land degradation, preserving biodiversity and climate change. The UNDP supports the efforts of the Kazakh government to conserve biodiversity through more efficient management of wetlands, pastures, steppe ecosystems and helps to prevent the threats of global warming by promoting energy conservation, rational use of land and water resources. Approximately 50 projects were implemented and more than $60 million were allocated for these measures,” said UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Vitalie Vremis. 

Today, desertification and land degradation are a global environmental and socio-economic problem. Losses of the fertile soil layer and nutrients negatively affect not only the state of natural ecosystems, but also the quality of life of the local population.


Old Wine in new bottles? A response

Times Online – Daily Online Edition of The Sunday Times Sri Lanka
By Dr. C.S. Weeraratna

According to Prof. Sirimal Abeyratne’s (SA) piece titled “Old wine in new bottles” in the Business Section of Sunday Times last week, we need to ensure a significant number of people in the rural agriculture sector leave so that the average farm-holdings could expand to an economical size of 10 acres in order to make it a viable farm land. There are nearly two million people in the agriculture sector and if this is reduced to 500,000 as indicated by SA, what is the balance going to do? Become security officers or 3-wheel drivers? If the two million farmers can be engaged in more productive farming and agro-industries it will enable the agriculture sector to increase its contribution to the GDP, and reduce our annual foreign exchange expenditure on food imports which at present is around Rs. 300 billion.

Prof SA’s piece in the Business Times indicates that the contribution of agriculture to our GDP is US$7 billion a year. This value perhaps includes the contribution of the plantation and non-plantation sector and could be raised substantially by increasing the productivity of the two sectors.

Production of tea, rubber and coconut sub-sectors has declined, and this could be increased substantially by replanting and adapting better management practices. Total domestic sugar production and sugar recovery rate, which are considered as indicators of the productivity in the sugar sub-sector has declined during the last few years. Developing and planting high yielding sugarcane varieties and carrying out better management practices would increase the productivity of this sector. Our average rice yield is around 4.2 t/ha which could be substantially increased as the potential yield of some of the rice varieties which are presently cultivated is around 8-10 t/ha. Productivity of most crops cultivated in the country remain at a low level due to many factors such as low quality seeds/planting material, bacterial and fungal diseases and also insect attacks. Better management practices would increase the productivity of these crops.

Soil degradation

Soil degradation is a factor which causes low productivity in most of our farms. Land degradation is of common occurrence in many parts of the country and is due to many factors such as soil erosion, soil compaction, nutrition depletion, development of salinity or acidity, loss of bio-diversity, etc. During the last few decades attempts have been made by successive governments to control land degradation. There are many ministries, departments and other institutions which are expected to take appropriate measures to control land degradation.


Indigenous Knowledge Can Help Solve the Biodiversity Crisis

Scientific American

By Hannah Rundle on October 12, 2019


The United Nations recently released a preliminary report warning that global biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, with approximately one million species currently at risk of extinction. However, the report noted biodiversity is declining at a significantly slower rate on lands governed by indigenous peoples, demonstrating their success as stewards of their natural environment. Biodiversity describes genetic diversity within and between species and is integral to the health and resiliency of ecosystems.

A decline in biodiversity will negatively impact humans in a number of different ways, ranging from food security to water quality. Considering this, it is imperative for indigenous knowledge to play an integral role in the fight to protect our sacred global biome.

Indigenous peoples across the globe have lived in harmony with their traditional lands for generations, living off the land and its resources while maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem itself.


Climate change, land degradation & agricultural deceleration in Manipur: Combined action of Land Use Policy & Environment Policy: A pioneering strategy

Mohendro Nandeibam

When the whole world is facing onslaught of aggressive climate change, Manipur cannot remain mere onlooker. The state is not sacrosanct. It has its own share of sorrow. The poor state has to suffer directly or indirectly, sooner or later. How many of us are aware of imminent danger of survival in the troubled age? How many of us think globally and act consciously? The uneasy culture of discounting future marks the beginning of the end.
The Risk-Multipliers (5) associated with climate change such as Reduced Agricultural Productivity, Heightened Water Insecurity, Increased exposure to extreme Weather Events, Collapse of Eco-system and Increased Health Risks are grim reminder of an endangered future.
How far the common people can be motivated for behavioural change by outcomes of academic workshops and conferences graced with the presence of eminent scientists and administrators? It is good but not enough. The general mass, particularly in Manipur, is still groping in the dark being heavily occupied by hand-to-mouth life. To them food is more important than environment. To them environment is a luxury. How can they think of a future of 50-100 years when they are unable to think of their daily livelihood? They hardly listen, because it does not serve the purpose of poor people. They are in the trap of multiple deprivations. Their overriding consideration is immediate need, — not anticipated future. Remember, a hungry man knows no morality. Humans pollute more than volcanoes; says a study conducted at University of Arkansas. How to educate people? This is not easy; — because Advice is not decision. Decision is not determination. Determination is not will power. How to tackle the stubborn mind? Prescription not followed by suitable action is as good as wishful thinking. 
Much has been talked of Sustainable Development, which needs to be qualified more. With huge loss of natural capital, physical capital and health hazard, climate change would cost India 2.8% of Gross Domestic Product and diminish living standard of nearly half of country’s population in the next 3 decades. “The warming of 2  could result in 4-5 percent reduction in annual per capita income in Africa and South Asia” (WDR-2010).


This farmer is using an ancient technique to reverse desertification

Yacouba Sawadogo was the subject of a 2010 documentary called ‘The Man Who Stopped the Desert’.
Image: Right Livelihood Award/Mark Dodd

A farmer from Burkina Faso who popularized an ancient farming technique to reverse desertification is among the winners of Sweden’s “alternative Nobel prize”, announced on Monday.

Yacouba Sawadogo shared this year’s award with three Saudi human rights activists and an Australian agronomist. The 3 million Swedish crown ($341,800) prize honours people who find solutions to global problems.

Sawadogo is known for turning barren land into forest using “zai” – pits dug in hardened soil that concentrate water and nutrients, allowing crops to withstand drought.

The technique has been used to restore thousands of hectares of dry land and in doing so reduce hunger in Burkina Faso and Niger since he began to teach it in the 1980s, according to the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

Sawadogo said he hoped he would be able to “use the award for the future”.

“My wish is for people to take my knowledge and share it. This can benefit the youth of the country,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from his village in Burkina Faso.

The country dips into a semi-arid zone below the Sahara desert known as the Sahel, where climate change and land overuse are making it increasingly difficult to farm, experts say.

“Yacouba Sawadogo vowed to stop the desert – and he made it,” said Ole von Uexkull, executive director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

“If local communities and international experts are ready to learn from his wisdom, it will be possible to regenerate large areas of degraded land, decrease forced migration and build peace in the Sahel.”

Last year, erratic rains left nearly a million people in need of food aid across the country.

Sawadogo initially faced resistance for his unconventional technique, based on an ancient method that had fallen out of practice. Now “zai” have been adopted by aid agencies working to prevent hunger in the region.

(Continued) – https://youtu.be/kCSYqUiI41w