UNEP Launches Campaign to Keep South Sudan Green
Khartoum, 29 June 2010 - Over the next two weeks, 500,000 trees will be planted around the city of Juba, in South Sudan, as part of the Keep Juba Green campaign launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Keep Juba Green is part of a UN commitment to plant one million trees across Southern Sudan in 2010 and 2011, being jointly implemented by the Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning and Environment, the Directorate of Forestry of Central Equatoria State and UNEP.
Supported by the UK Department of International Development (DFID) and the Government of Italy, the campaign aims to engage community groups, schools and organizations in the planting of 23 different tree species in an effort to draw attention to the need for reforestation and improved forest management in South Sudan.
Southern Sudan is estimated to have lost 40 percent of its forests since Sudan gained independence in 1956. A 2007 UNEP Post-Conflict Assessment of Sudan found that deforestation was principally driven by energy needs, for firewood and charcoal, as well as land clearing to meet agricultural and local construction needs.
The Vice President of Southern Sudan, Riek Machar, planted the campaign's first tree, a mango seedling, and urged others to get involved in working for a more sustainable future.
UNEP's Sudan Programme Manager, Robin Bovey, said the tree planting effort would not be possible without the government's determination to encourage the wise use of natural resources.
"There's still a vast amount of work to do to ensure development in the south proceeds in an environmentally sensitive and sustainable way which will in turn ensure livelihoods and public health in the years to come," Mr Bovey said.
Two decades of devastating civil war ended in January 2005 when a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed between the Sudanese central government in Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Army in the South.
As it focuses on recovery and development, the country faces key environmental challenges such as land degradation, deforestation and the impacts of climate change. Adequate management and rehabilitation of natural resources are fundamental prerequisites to peacebuilding in Sudan.
Through its Disasters and Conflicts Programme, UNEP's activities in Sudan focus on addressing the links between environmental pressures and conflict through capacity-building and more effective natural resource management, primarily water and forestry, to help build community resilience, address poverty issues and support peacebuilding.
With UNEP's support, the Ministry of Environment completed the South Sudan Environmental Policy 2010 as well as the 2010 South Sudan Environment Act which will be reviewed during a UNEP-sponsored stakeholder workshop in August.