When I wrote last week that Governors Bago and Zulum were told at the Niger State Green Summit in October that our 200MillionTrees initiative aligns with 11 Sustainable Development Goals, some readers wondered which goals.
For those who don’t know, 200MillionTrees is an initiative which seeks to plant 200 million trees in Nigeria to replace the 60% lost forest cover in the country. Since our population is 200 million, that means we’re planting one tree for every Nigerian.
But we’re planting the trees as food forests in schools and community centres where they will have ownership. Also, our trees are either fruit trees or medicinal plants.
Today, therefore, I want to take you through the goals one after the other. Indeed, in a world grappling with pressing environmental challenges, initiatives that address both ecological restoration and community empowerment emerge as beacons of hope. The 200MillionTrees project in Nigeria stands as a shining example of such an endeavour, seeking to plant a staggering 200 million trees to replace lost forest cover. What sets this initiative apart is not just its ambitious goal, but its profound alignment with no less than 11 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Climate Action (SDG 13):
The urgency of climate action cannot be overstated. Through the strategic reforestation efforts of 200 million trees, the initiative aims to mitigate climate change by absorbing substantial amounts of carbon dioxide, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable and balanced ecosystem. This critical step forward in combating climate change aligns seamlessly with SDG 13, which calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. We know that trees are oxygen factories. Now imagine planting 200 million of those factories. Also, each tree can sequester (take in) up to 22 kg of carbon per year.
Life on Land (SDG 15):
I’ve a food forest in my house in Minna and even at that small scale, the kind of biodiversity I see daily is remarkable. The most enjoyable part of it is waking up to hear birds singing for me every morning. Preserving and restoring terrestrial ecosystems is a cornerstone of the 200MillionTrees project. By planting trees, particularly fruit trees and medicinal plants, this initiative bolsters biodiversity, safeguards habitats, and promotes sustainable land management, aligning perfectly with SDG 15. It stands as a powerful testament to the commitment towards reversing the trend of land degradation and biodiversity loss.
Quality Education (SDG 4):
Education is the bedrock of change, and 200MillionTrees recognises this by establishing food forests in schools. This immersive learning experience fosters environmental awareness, empowering the next generation to become stewards of the planet. By nurturing a sense of responsibility towards nature, this aligns closely with SDG 4, which emphasizes the importance of inclusive and quality education for all.
Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3):
During COVID-19, neighbours trouped to my house to harvest medicinal leaves from my food forest. Therefore, by prioritizing the planting of medicinal plants, the initiative advances SDG 3. These natural remedies and traditional medicines not only support health and well-being but also showcase the invaluable connection between nature and human wellness. This approach signifies a holistic understanding of health that encompasses both physical and environmental well-being.
Zero Hunger (SDG 2):
In the quest for a sustainable future, food security is paramount. The inclusion of fruit trees in the 200MillionTrees project provides a vital source of nutrition, directly addressing SDG 2 and contributing to the fight against hunger. This aspect of the initiative embodies the commitment to ensuring food security, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture. Already students and staff of one of our partnering schools, Esteem Boys’ College Abuja, enjoy fruits every year from their food forest.
Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6):
Healthy forests play a pivotal role in maintaining water quality and regulating water cycles. They also stabilize rainfall. By focusing on reforestation, 200MillionTrees indirectly supports SDG 6, contributing to the availability of clean and sustainable water resources. This facet of the initiative exemplifies the interconnectivity of ecosystems and the vital role they play in ensuring access to clean water for all.
Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11):
Urban areas can be transformed into havens of greenery, and 200MillionTrees understands this potential. By establishing food forests in community centres, the initiative promotes green spaces, community engagement, and sustainable urban development in line with SDG 11. This approach not only enhances urban resilience but also fosters a sense of belonging and shared responsibility for the environment.
Partnerships for the Goals (SDG 17):
The success of the 200MillionTrees project hinges on collaboration. Through partnerships with government bodies, NGOs, educational institutions, and local communities, this initiative embodies the spirit of SDG 17, emphasizing the importance of collective action for sustainable development. It highlights the power of working together towards a common goal, showcasing the strength that arises from diverse stakeholders uniting for a shared purpose.
SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure: The initiative promotes innovative approaches to reforestation, particularly through the concept of food forests and teaching students how to multiply their trees by air layering. This aligns with SDG 9’s focus on fostering inclusive and sustainable industrialization and promoting technological advancements.
SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production: By emphasizing the planting of fruit trees and medicinal plants, the initiative encourages sustainable consumption patterns. It advocates for the use of natural resources in a responsible and environmentally friendly manner.
SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy: While not directly related, the initiative indirectly supports SDG 7 by contributing to environmental sustainability. Healthy forests play a role in regulating local climates and can indirectly impact energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. Indeed, planting forests in urban areas can reduce temperatures by up to eight degrees.
So, in total, the 200MillionTrees initiative aligns with 11 Sustainable Development Goals.
In the face of complex environmental challenges, initiatives like 200MillionTrees serve as a beacon of hope, demonstrating that strategic reforestation efforts can lead to a more sustainable and prosperous future.
By aligning with the 11 SDGs, this initiative not only addresses ecological concerns but also empowers communities and fosters a sense of shared responsibility for our planet. It’s a testament to what can be achieved when ambition, dedication, and purpose converge on the path to a greener tomorrow.
Through initiatives like this, we pave the way for a future where environmental stewardship and community well-being go hand in hand, leaving a legacy of sustainability for generations to come.