Gold Winner of the Future Policy Award, the Tigray Regional State of Ethiopia, Shared its Experience in Transforming Degraded Drylands to Green Landscapes in Geneva, Switzerland

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Yesterday on Tuesday (October 31), special event was held with the winner of Future Policy Award at the UN Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland. In the event, the International “Oscar for best policies“ gold winner of 2017, the Tigray Regional State of Ethiopia, was presented. The head of bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development of Tigray, H.E Dr. Atinkut Mezgebu has briefly shared the positive experience and good practices of Tigray region in combating desertification and land degradation.

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The event was attended by high-level guest speaker and ambassador including Ethiopia, Jordan and Burkina Faso, India. Also present were H.E. Mr. Ousséni Diallo, President of Green Cross, H.E. Mr. Pradeep Monga, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, H.E. Mrs. Alexandra Wandel, Vice Chair of the Management Board of the World Future Council, and as mentioned above H.E Dr. Atinkut Mezgebu, Head of Tigray Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau.

The panel aims to shows how the destructive drama of desertification can become a constructive theatre of land restoration by taking the case of Tigray, Ethiopia; to identify good policies and legislation that has meaningful impact on peoples life; raise awareness to share the positive experience and good practices of Tigray Ethiopia that may has been replicated into other region in Ethiopia and in some others countries; to try to encourage follower action by policy and law makers, to help build critical mass that can bring about positive change.

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Dr. Atinkut Mezgebu, Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau Head of Tigray region, spoke as panelist where he shared the positive experience and good practices of the local policy, explained and replied to questions raised on what is makes the Tigray Region successful.

In the case of Tigray, Dr. Atinkut mentioned the development strategy of Tigray which is specifically focused on food self-sufficiency and conserving land in most sustainable nature. This has made a difference and that is getting strong support from the government. He cited Conservation-based Agricultural Development Led Industrialization (ADLI) strategy and public participation as one of the underlying principles for agricultural development in general and for transforming drylands into green landscapes in particular. He moreover pointed out mass mobilization, empowering young people, putting them at the center of transformation (of drylands) as another major principal factors for the success story. He highlighted the perception of land degradation and awareness of the problem among Tigray people as playing an enormous role in not only raising voluntary labor for ecological conversation but also uptaking sustainable agricultural practices (such as the construction of stone terraces and microdams, etc. which by large made a remarkable contribution to food self-sufficiency.

In the last past, Dr. Atinkut said, droughts cost more lives and civil war intensifies the process of desertification. Actions to combat desertification, therefore, not only contribute to protecting the environment but also providing social and political stability as well as changing the positive image of the region in particular and the country in general.

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The Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Ethiopia, H.E Negash Kibret absolutely has spot on strong and committed leadership (regional and federal), national ownership (ownership from individuals to community level) and the effective partnership (domestic and external) that can help replicate this success stories, as key to success.

Alexandra Wandel, Vice Chair of the Management Board of the World Future Council, emphasised that there has been absolute resolute effort to remedy land degradation in Tigray region. She mentioned that Tigray has used a unique combination, on the one hand they have done a mass mobilisation of people using also voluntary labour, they have provided a consent to young people by empowering and providing land certificate to young people, they have also significantly restore land on a massive scale really enhancing food and water security. Since 1991, according to Alexandra, soil and water conservation activities has been undertaken on 916 hectares, and 1.2 million hectares are close to allow vegetation and results are well documented.

The panelists also praised the good results that has come out of the wonderful, integrated, bottom up policy of Tigray region, and the determination and compassionate of Tigray people about land, desert and reforesting drylands, and finally call for the importance of replicating the experience and good practices of Tigray into other regions and countries.

The event was organized by the the World Future Council in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Ethiopia in Geneva, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), World Future Council, Green Cross International, University of Oxford’s Enacting Global Transformation Initiative and Theatre of Transformation Academy.