Ethiopia’s former PM playing role in environment protection

The former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and current chairperson of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Hailemariam Desalegn with other two former African heads of state has been named as patron of the first conference on African protected areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)- 1st Africa Protected Areas Conference (APAC).

The conference is scheduled to take place in Rwanda in March 2022 to discuss the role of protected areas in conserving nature, safeguarding Africa’s iconic wildlife, delivering vital life-supporting ecosystem services, promoting sustainable development while conserving Africa’s cultural heritage and traditions, according to IUCN website.

Following his peaceful resignation from his position as Prime Minister in early 2018, Hailemariam Desalegn is actively engaging in different social service activities including establishing a non-profit organization with his wife, the Hailemariam and Roman Foundation (HRF). The HRF, a locally registered non-profit organization in Ethiopia is actively engaged in providing different social services for different communities.

Forest conservation and environmental protection is among the major tasks of the HRF which has its own Climate Smart Conservation and Ecotourism Program under its staff with the aim of supporting the green development in Ethiopia.

Hailemariam, during his six years position as head of gov’t puts his finger-print in developing green development and environmental protection in Ethiopia. Similarly, his leadership role in fighting climate change was sounding. At national level, his government tried its best to follow environmental friendly economic development aiming at building sustainable and green economy.

At the same time, the environmental protection and ecological conservation efforts during his administration period got due attention and there was huge investment in this regard. And following his resignation from his position in 2018, he continued his efforts in environmental protection and other social activities to support communities at grass-roots level.

Ethiopian respective leaders invest their own finger-prints in environmental protection and greening campaigns. The successor of Hailemariam, the current Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed Ali (PhD) with ambitious plan of planting 20 billion trees within four years is becoming a champion of all leadership efforts in environmental protection in Ethiopia. The National Green Legacy Initiative of Premier Abiy which was launched in 2019 mobilizing millions of citizens during the past three consecutive plantation seasons and over 15 billion new seedlings were planted across the country.

What is unique for Hailemariam is that he sustained his investment and efforts in nature even after leaving office. He is the chairman of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and the HRF, both institutions invest in environmental protection. And now, Rwanda named him as the patron of the upcoming Africa Protected Areas Conference (APAC), the first continental conference to discuss African protected areas.

During his recent interview at African Leadership Dialogue with the CEO of African Wildlife Foundation, Kaddu Kiwe Sebunya, Hailemariam stated that conservation of nature is a top priority and conviction of his life. Hailemariam noted that his attention to care for environment comes since his early childhood life experiences and his academic career.

“My childhood was spent in the southern region of rural Ethiopia, which has provided me with many aspirations to convey. My country’s circumstances, notably the drought and famine that devastated the country’s northern areas at the time, were one of the causes that impacted my decision to become a leader” Hailemariam said.

According to Hailemariam, he was asked to collect grains to the Northern parts of Ethiopia while he was fourth grade due to the famine in the Northern part of the country. He said that he started to raise the question why the Northern part of Ethiopia was affected by drought while the Southern Ethiopia has a bumper harvest at the same time.

Hailemariam stated that during his fourth year term as prime minister of Ethiopia, he was able to attain a nation-wide food self-sufficiency which he claims as an achievement stemmed his childhood dream. Not only during his duty at office, but also he is pursuing his ambition of serving his people and country after leaving office as prime minister.

The former Prime Minister reiterated that he enjoys life after handing over power and see things thoroughly. He underlined that “finally, I understand that nature and conservation of nature is the most important above all things. Because, if we continue with this status quo of habitat loss and mismanagement of our natural resources we will end up with dangerous situation in this globe.”

“We are suffering from global warming because we destroyed our natural ecosystem and the atmosphere,” Hailemariam stated adding “that is why every country is suffering.” Hence, for him, restoring biodiversity and safeguarding nature should be the top priority of governments, especially in Africa and time to act before things get worse.

According to him, the world should understand the current trend of continuous loss of biodiversity’s implication that would affect the survival of all species in the long run. In addition to giving due attention to act timely to halt the impacts of climate change, he emphasized the significance of balancing development and nature. He vowed to continue his efforts of caring to nature and natural conservation investments during his interview with the CEO of AWF.

Practically, Hilemariam’s HRF is actively engaged in conservation of nature, though the foundation is at its early stage. The foundation is mobilizing communities for conservation and environmental protection activities and organizing events to aware societies about the need to invest on nature conservation and protection activities.

Recently, a high-level delegation from the HRF visited Omo and Mago National Parks focused on environmental protection and ecotourism, HRF reported. The delegate visited biodiversity areas devoted to community conservation with senior officials of Southern Omo Zone and Managers of Omo and Mago National Parks. HRF reported that those areas have previously been suffering from biodiversity loss; but now the situation has been reversed under the auspices of the Foundation.

The delegation also discussed with local elders on community conservation in South Omo Zone. During the discussion, Hailemariam stated that the current global climate change is linked to biodiversity loss, and that the solution to halt the problem is developing conserved areas in the community. To address environmental issues sustainably, HRF is focusing on establishing a multi-stakeholder collaboration platform, he noted.

Hailemariam stated that Hailemariam and Roman Foundation (HRF) will continue to work closely with the community and with the regional government of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region for the sustainable ecological conservation and nature conservation efforts in the Omo Zone and in other parts of the country focusing on development of ecotourism and conserving nature.



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