26 March 2018 – Dublin, Ireland – During her recent visit to Ireland, the UNCCD Executive Secretary Ms. Monique Barbut has attended a reception hosted by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins to urge the country take leadership in addressing the global challenge of desertification and in supporting Africa’s Great Green Wall initiative.
The event, which was held at the Presidential Residence Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin, was also attended by the Papal Nuncio, key government representatives and a broad section of Irish civil society.
During the reception, President Higgins made reference to the global ramifications of desertification challenge: "We are one global family: we must recognise that the problems faced by a farmer in Niger are our problems; that the struggles of women in Mali to live decently are our struggles; that the hunger of a child in the Sudan is our hunger."
President Higgins further noted that the Great Green Wall can act as a powerful solution to these urgent challenges: "With its capacity to unite nations and communities in solidarity, the Great Green Wall represents the best kind of international cooperation that will be required in this century."
Ms. Barbut echoed President Higgins’ words, stating that: "The Great Green Wall is an idea we can all truly embrace. A powerful symbol that a better future – full of hope and possibility – is firmly within our grasp."
The event also served as an opportunity for the inauguration of the Laudato Tree Project, an initiative launched by the Society for African Missions in Ireland. Inspired by Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si, the project aims to encourage the protection of biodiversity in Ireland among young people, and match this with concerted action in evolving the Great Green Wall.
Ms. Barbut was invited to officially inaugurate the project in front of a broad section of Irish media, presenting a group of Irish school children with a tree to take back to their schools, as a symbol for the future evolution of the project.