Wearing green and getting dirt under their fingernails may not be the usual order of business on a Friday afternoon, but that’s exactly what UN and MNRE Forestry Division staff did today for World Environment Day, when they came together to plant over 600 trees.
Environment Day, celebrated globally on June 5th every year, is the United Nations' principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment. This year’s theme is ‘Celebrate Biodiversity’, a concern that is both urgent and existential.
UNDP Samoa, in collaboration with the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, rallied the support of other agencies at the One UN House, Tuanaimato to join in marking this event by planting 550 forest trees, 60 fruit trees from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and other ornamental plants at the Faleata Recreational Reserve opposite the UN compound, and in the UN complex.
This is the first in a series of tree-planting events UNDP plans to carry out this year, in a bid to offset carbon emissions from mission-related UNDP travel and electricity usage over the last 12 months. The aim is to turn these emissions into trees to increase the planet’s carbon sequestration capacity, whilst contributing to MNRE’s Two Million Trees Campaign, which has already been exceeded according to the Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Division, during today’s event.
“The Two Million Tree Planting Campaign is a national initiative to help advance the cause for sustainable forest management, rehabilitate degraded land areas, preserve water resources and protect biological diversity whilst contributing to mitigating the impacts of climate change. The forest systems are often vulnerable to impacts of human activities, so every tree planted counts. MNRE is pleased to partner with UNDP for the tree planting today to commemorate World Environment Day,” said Moafanua Tolusina Pouli, ACEO, Forestry Division, MNRE.
Today’s event is also part of UNDP’s Greening Moonshot Initiative, launched by the UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner, in 2019, which aims to reduce UNDP Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from global operations by 25% by 2025, and 50% by 2030.
“UNDP is committed to “walk the talk”, demonstrating that we run our operations in a resource-efficient, sustainable and accountable way. Becoming carbon neutral is not enough, so as a result, the UNDP Greening Moonshot Initiative was launched, catalysing fundamental changes in UNDP’s organizational culture and business model to confidently walk the climate talk, encouraging local partners to do the same,” said Mr Jorn Sorensen, UNDP’s Resident Representative.
All the saplings planted today were sourced from MNRE’s Forestry Division (for native, forest plants) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (fruit trees), as well as ornamental plants from Crystal Samoa Orchids.
The event also provided an opportunity for local impact entrepreneurs, Samoa Green Products Ltd (SGPL), to showcase their nature-based alternatives to single-use plastic and polystyrene, in support of the Government of Samoa’s plastic ban. These include plates, bowls and spoons made from native palm leaves.
For their “Adopt a Plant” office activity, UNDP sourced from SGPL hand-woven baskets containing small desk-plants for staff, as a constant reminder of the importance of greening their daily activities, taking pride in being part of the solution.
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