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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Green Legacy Initiative

Office of the Prime Minister, Ethiopia (

    Ethiopia, home to 120 million people, is one of the world’s most drought-prone countries. It has a high degree of vulnerability to hydro-meteorological hazards and natural disasters. Dependence on sectors that are climate change sensitive such as rain-fed agriculture, water, tourism, and forestry as well as a high level of poverty are the main factors that exacerbate Ethiopia’s vulnerability. Ethiopia's policy response to climate change has progressively evolved since the ratification of the UNFCCC in 1994. Ethiopia launched the National Adaptation Plan of Action in 2007 and the Ethiopian Program of Adaptation on Climate Change and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions in 2010. Ethiopia also endorsed a Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) strategy in 2011 with the objective of building a green and resilient economy. Over the years, Ethiopia has been implementing various programs within those policy frameworks. One among them, and by far the most consequential, has been the Green Legacy Initiative (GLI). Rooted in a vision of building a green and climate-resilient Ethiopia, the Green Legacy Initiative was launched in June 2019. A target of planting 20 billion seedlings within a period of four years was set. By the fourth year, Ethiopia has succeeded in planting 25 billion seedlings by mobilizing more than 20 million citizens throughout the nation. The development of more than 120,000 nurseries throughout the country has enabled the creation of more than 767,000 jobs, mostly for women and youth. The Green Legacy Initiative is a demonstration of Ethiopia’s long-term commitment to a multifaceted response to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation that encompasses agroforestry, forest sector development, greening and renewal of urban areas, and integrated water and soil resources management. This has an immense contribution to Ethiopia’s efforts to meet its international commitments such as the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

    Expected Impact

    Ethiopia’s Green Legacy Initiative has multiple targets as it naturally touches on various targets of the 2030 Agenda. Contribution to food security is one of the objectives of the Initiative. In 2022 alone, more than 500 million seedlings were plants that have premium values in local and international markets such as avocadoes, mangoes, apples and papayas. This directly feeds into the current drive of becoming food self-sufficient by promoting sustainable agriculture as envisaged in Sustainable Development Goal 2. The Initiative is a major flagship project that will help attain its adaptation goals as set in the National Adaptation Plan. Ethiopia is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Frequent droughts, floods and locust infestations are some of the manifestations of the extreme of climate events. Over the past four decades, the average annual temperate in Ethiopia is estimated to have risen by 0.37 degrees Celsius each decade. Directly linked to Goal 13 of the SDGs, this Initiative complements Ethiopia’s efforts to reduce its vulnerability. Moreover, forest conservation, reforestation, restoration of degraded land and soil as well as the promotion of sustainable management of forests. Ethiopia’s forest coverage has been declining for decades at an alarming rate. Between 2000 to 2013, the net loss of forest cover was 72,000 hectares a year which is equivalent to 100,840 football fields. The Initiative intends to reverse this as this is unsustainable in a country where 85 per cent of the population depends on rainfed agriculture. Overall, the innovative aspect of the Initiative lies in its potential to address multiple objectives. This entails enormous benefits in environmental protection, restoration of overexploited and degraded natural resources such as surface soil and water, halting desertification and many other interrelated objectives. The enormity of the interlinkages will significantly contribute to Ethiopia’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

    Goal 2

    End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

    Goal 2


    By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round


    Prevalence of undernourishment


    Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population, based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)


    By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons


    Prevalence of stunting (height for age <-2 standard deviation from the median of the World Health Organization (WHO) Child Growth Standards) among children under 5 years of age


    Prevalence of malnutrition (weight for height >+2 or <-2 standard deviation from the median of the WHO Child Growth Standards) among children under 5 years of age, by type (wasting and overweight)


    Prevalence of anaemia in women aged 15 to 49 years, by pregnancy status (percentage)


    By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment

    Volume of production per labour unit by classes of farming/pastoral/forestry enterprise size


    Average income of small-scale food producers, by sex and indigenous status


    By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality


    Proportion of agricultural area under productive and sustainable agriculture


    By 2020, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed


    Number of (a) plant and (b) animal genetic resources for food and agriculture secured in either medium- or long-term conservation facilities


    Proportion of local breeds classified as being at risk of extinction


    Increase investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development and plant and livestock gene banks in order to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular least developed countries

    The agriculture orientation index for government expenditures


    Total official flows (official development assistance plus other official flows) to the agriculture sector


    Correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets, including through the parallel elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies and all export measures with equivalent effect, in accordance with the mandate of the Doha Development Round


    Agricultural export subsidies


    Adopt measures to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets and their derivatives and facilitate timely access to market information, including on food reserves, in order to help limit extreme food price volatility


    Indicator of food price anomalies

    Goal 13

    Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

    Goal 13


    Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries


    Number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population


    Number of countries that adopt and implement national disaster risk reduction strategies in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030


    Proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with national disaster risk reduction strategies


    Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning


    Number of countries with nationally determined contributions, long-term strategies, national adaptation plans and adaptation communications, as reported to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


    Total greenhouse gas emissions per year


    Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning


    Extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development are mainstreamed in (a) national education policies; (b) curricula; (c) teacher education; and (d) student assessment


    Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible


    Amounts provided and mobilized in United States dollars per year in relation to the continued existing collective mobilization goal of the $100 billion commitment through to 2025


    Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities



    Number of least developed countries and small island developing States with nationally determined contributions, long-term strategies, national adaptation plans and adaptation communications, as reported to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

    Goal 15

    Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

    Goal 15


    By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements

    Forest area as a proportion of total land area
    Proportion of important sites for terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity that are covered by protected areas, by ecosystem type


    By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally

    Progress towards sustainable forest management


    By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world

    Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area


    By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development

    Coverage by protected areas of important sites for mountain biodiversity
    Mountain Green Cover Index


    Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species

    Red List Index


    Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed

    Number of countries that have adopted legislative, administrative and policy frameworks to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits


    Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products

    Proportion of traded wildlife that was poached or illicitly trafficked


    By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species

    Proportion of countries adopting relevant national legislation and adequately resourcing the prevention or control of invasive alien species


    By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts


    (a) Number of countries that have established national targets in accordance with or similar to Aichi Biodiversity Target 2 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 in their national biodiversity strategy and action plans and the progress reported towards these targets; and (b) integration of biodiversity into national accounting and reporting systems, defined as implementation of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting


    Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems


    (a) Official development assistance on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; and (b) revenue generated and finance mobilized from biodiversity-relevant economic instruments


    Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation


    (a) Official development assistance on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; and (b) revenue generated and finance mobilized from biodiversity-relevant economic instruments


    Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities

    Proportion of traded wildlife that was poached or illicitly trafficked
    Name Description

    Plant 25 billion seedlings by mobilizing more than 20 million citizens throughout the nation

    Create up to 700,000 permanent and temporary jobs and increase the number of tree nurseries to 120,000 from 40,000

    Remove up to 297M tons of CO2 equivalent through two years of planting

    Financing (in USD)
    The sustainability of the initiative significantly depends on the ability of the Government of Ethiopia to mobilize sufficient resources in the years to come. It is imperative that partners scale up their support to national forest and land use projects.
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    Action Network
    SDG Acceleration Actions
    Office of the Prime Minister, Ethiopia
    1. Africa
    Other beneficiaries

    The Initiative is expected to benefit the Ethiopian society at large by reducing its the vulnerability to climate change and other environmental losses, and help Ethiopia achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 of the African Union. There is also a long term plan to expand the initiative to Ethiopia's neighbouring countries.

    Contact Information