GGGI-Ethiopia Launches New Climate Resilient Forest and Landscape Restoration (CRFLR) Program

December 28, 2021- Addis Ababa: The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)- Ethiopia in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) launched a five-year, 9.6 million USD (over 470 million Ethiopian Birr) project entitled “The Ethiopia Climate Resilient Forest and Landscape Restoration (CRFLR) Program.” The fund for the execution of the project, which is to be implemented in selected watersheds of the Amhara, Oromia and Sidama Regional States, is secured from KOICA.

The launching event followed the signing of the grant agreement between KOICA and GGGI on 25th November 2021. The signed agreement have the following complementary and mutually reinforcing objectives: (i) establish a framework of cooperation and facilitate collaboration between the GGGI and KOICA with respect to the Ethiopia Climate Resilient Forest and Landscape Restoration and (ii) record KOICA’s agreement to provide financial assistance to GGGI in the form of a Contribution to support the implementation of a Project that aimed at conserving and restoring forest over of 13,000 ha of degraded forest landscape in selected watersheds in Ethiopia.

The project was launched at a high-level event organized at the auditorium of Sheraton Addis Hotel in the presence of senior government officials, representatives from KOICA Ethiopia Office, diplomatic corps, key development partners, media practitioners and other invited guests.

In his welcoming remarks, Dr. Gemedo Dalle, Country Representative of GGGI, pointed out that sustainable forest landscapes is one of the thematic areas of GGGI and added that forests have significant role in the national economy of many countries as they have direct economic contributions to GDP (e.g., about  6% of the national Ethiopia’s GDP) and sustainable development. He, however said, deforestation and forest degradation remained a major challenge for Ethiopia’s forest ecosystems threatening sustainable development and human wellbeing.

Dr. Gemedo noted that the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) has been undertaking several climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives across key economic sectors which have been reflected in the 10 Years Perspective Development Plan and launching of the Green Legacy Initiative.

He underscored that GGGI has been supporting the GoE since the adoption of the Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) Strategy and contributed to several initiatives in strengthening policy, planning, regulatory, financing, and institutional frameworks to achieve green growth outcomes.

Dr. Gemedo praised the Government of the Republic of Korea in general and KOICA in particular, for accepting GGGI proposal and funding the CRFLR Program.

The Country Representative reiterated GGGI’s sheer commitment and readiness to closely working with KOICA, Ministry of Agriculture of FDRE, other relevant line Ministries and Bureaus of the selected Regional National States for effective implementation of this project.

In his congratulatory remarks, Mr. Lee Byunghwa, Country Director of KOICA Ethiopia Office, asserted that the KOICA -funded program is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emission from deforestation, while improving resilience of ecosystem services and increasing livelihoods of climate vulnerable people and communities.

He underlined that the CRFLR program will be able to deliver its intended results by taking advantage of GGGI’s commitment to strong, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth and expertise that the organization possesses and capitalizes on for global interventions in many countries.

Mr. Byunghwa stated that KOICA supported the initial operationalization of the GGGI at its inception, and it is now providing critical technical assistance in terms of low carbon development pathway to many partner countries including Ethiopia.

The Country Director expressed his firm conviction that KOICA will strengthen its programming in green growth as one of its four key interventions in Ethiopia.

The CRFLR was officially launched by Representative of the State Minister for Natural Resources Sector of the Ministry of Agriculture,  Mr. Tefera Tadesse, Director of Natural Resource Management (NRM) Directorate. .

In his remarks, Mr. Tefera mentioned his government’s unflinching stance for the green economy and sustainable development and claimed that the declaration of CRGE strategy is utter manifestation of the GoE’s commitment towards reversing the debilitating impacts of climate change in the country. He said the CRGE Strategy recognizes that deforestation and forest degradation must be reversed if Ethiopia is to meet its development goals.

“Ethiopia has set a triple goal of attaining a middle-income country status, while pursuing a net-zero emission economic growth, and building resilience by 2025,” he said, adding that building climate resilient and green economy is one of the strategic pillars of Ethiopia’s perspective development for the period 2021-2030.

Mr. Tefera noted that Ethiopia is one of the countries that have negotiated for the 1.5 degree Celsius temperature goal under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and accordingly submitted its revised and most ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aiming at emission reduction target of 68.8% by 2030.

He stressed the GoE attached a pronounced significance  to the forest sector, as the sector  has a potential to contribute significantly to Ethiopia’s climate mitigation ambitions, with an estimated potential of 50% GHG emissions reduction between 2010 and 2030. He further expressed his conviction that Ethiopian government will continue to give priority to  the forestry sector as been clearly indicated in the 10 Years Perspective Plan.

The Director thanked the Government and people of the Republic of Korea and KOICA for the unwavering and bold support to the Government and People of Ethiopia. He also lauded the initiatives being undertaken by GGGI for mobilizing this financial resource and for its continued technical support to the Government of Ethiopia.

Mr. Tefera finally called upon all relevant stakeholders to synergize their actions to ensure the effective implementation of the CRFLR Program and derive utmost benefits out of the intervention.

Following the opening remarks, Dr. Gemedo Dalle made presentation on an overview   of the CRFLR program focusing on conducive policy frameworks, anticipated challenges, planned interventions, implementation modalities, expected outputs and entrusted responsibilities of implementing partners.

Discussions and key feedbacks from stakeholders

The discussion session was facilitated by H.E. Mr Kebede Yimam, Deputy Commissioner of the then Environment, Forestry and Climate Change Commission (EFCCC).

During the session, participants of the event flagged up concerns and issues that need further clarifications, which included, among others:

The level of national coverage of the project, its geographic scope and implementation modality on the selected regions; amount of hectares to be developed in the selected regions; the extent to which the project focuses on aspects of livelihoods and income generation; level of the project’s dedication to provide alternatives of energy options to help avert deforestation in the operational areas; socio-economic elements including landholding rights and tenure security particularly for smallholder farmers; level of dimension on inclusion of ecosystem rehabilitation and restoration of extinct plant species in the selected regions;  the extent of using indigenous knowledge and technology to rehabilitate degraded forests; issues pertaining to fund management in the selected regions/woredas and the monitoring and evaluation aspects of the project.

Dr. Gemedo Dalle and other GGGI country Office staff members responded and made clarifications to the questions and concerns raised by the participants.

Summary and Concluding Remarks

In his concluding remarks, Dr. Gemedo reiterated that as per the agreed project, the scope of implementation will only cover communal lands in selected watersheds in the three Regional States. He noted that the intervention largely involves owners of communal lands who are well organized and legalized.

Dr. Gemedo further made the point clear that there will be no additional interventions, expansions, deviations, or any forms of ‘flexibility’ that go against the provisions of the project’s agreement.  “It is only what has been agreed in the project document that will be translated into actions on the ground,” he said.

The Country Representative underlined that the effective implementation of the project requires a collaborative action and bringing all stakeholders on board to define prioritized areas of intervention, set an agreed  baseline data, establish monitoring and evaluation frameworks, and set a roadmap for the sustainability aspect of the project.

He underscored that the project would encourage the proactive engagement of the private sector and exert utmost efforts to organise forest enterprise. Adding that micro-finance institutions (MFIs) will be strengthened to enable them to finance the forest sector.

Dr. Gemedo called on the target regions and other stakeholders to use the opportunity and strive hard for the effective implementation of the project, which he said would have a far-reaching impact on climate change and rebuild a green recovery in the implementation areas.

He finally thanked the participants and assured that their inputs will be considered in further actions of the project.

H.E. Ato Kebede Yimam, on his part remarked that the root causes of land degradation need to be clearly identified in the project implementation areas.

He underscored that CRFLR program will contribute to the national initiatives to restore the depletion of forest base and help address the ever-increasing demand of wood fuels . He added that the land use management for forest should be given a special attention.

He urged the dire need to invest the fund in interventions that could pay off results at the shortest time possible. “We need to think ahead to attract other funding sources through effectively implementing this CRFLR program. If this project fails, we will inevitably fail in leveraging the resource for the other forthcoming project,” he said.                                      

The Deputy Commissioner further called upon the stakeholders particularly representatives of the three target regions to create an enabling working environment for the execution of the project, which he said is aligned with the CRGE strategy and other development goal of the country.