Asmara, 15 May 2016
The vital importance of afforestation and greening programmes is too vivid and universally recognized to merit elaboration or warrant new innovation. These programmes have more relevance to us than other peoples and countries. In the event, the pertinent question that must be raised on such occasions is what have we done in concrete terms? This must be gauged against the backdrop of our high aspirations; particularly as we are fully cognizant of the importance of the programmes.
The afforestation programme will not be rigorously implemented through sheer and sporadic public relations exercises. It must go beyond posting publicity banners in various streets and billboards; broaching the subject on the sidelines of propitious occasions; or, simple adherence to “initiatives of development partners”. It cannot be seen from the perspectives of global warming (as articulated by others) alone and by the perceived need of participating in international “conferences” to sign conventions aimed at reversing the trend. A robust afforestation programme must go beyond nominal and inconsistent measures.
Our afforestation and greening programmes must be measurable in terms of quality, quantity, geographic coverage and time. They must continue to expand in a sustainable manner. And above all, we need to put in place a strong monitoring and enforcement mechanism that ensures meticulous treatment, protection and monitoring of planted areas. An effective research infrastructure is another indispensable component that must be in place. Without all these ingredients, the programme will largely remain ineffectual or a simple wish list.
The efforts we have exerted in the past ten years and their outcome cannot be considered as fully rewarding, even we have no regrets. In the event, we need to draw appropriate lessons and experiences from unsuccessful programmes and make rapid strides in the period ahead to recuperate lost opportunities. In this spirit, I express my ardent hopes for this conference to chart-out a road-map that will accelerate progress in future.