Zuayter Calls for Local Community Partnership in Tree-Planting Projects During FAO’s Near East Forestry Week

APN | Amman

11 September 2023


APN Chairperson of the Board, Razan Zuayter, was invited to speak at a technical workshop entitled “Forest-Based Adaptation: Challenges and Opportunities for Drylands” during the 5th Near East Forestry Week. This event was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and took place from 11 – 13 September 2023, in Amman, Jordan.

Drawing on APN’s two decades of experience in its two programmes: The Green Caravan in Jordan and the Million Tree Campaign in Palestine, she presented the challenges and recommendations for tree-planting projects. She stressed that the absence of participatory strategies in tree planting often results in ad-hoc decisions that jeopardize the sustainability of projects. To address this, she highlighted the importance of inclusive collaboration involving various entities including the public and private sectors, civil society, local communities, and academia. This collaborative effort should span from establishing priorities and strategies to implementation, monitoring, and ensuring accountability.

She also warned against conditional funding set by international donors for organizations to plant nonproductive trees without an economic benefit to the local community. To ensure the success of tree-planting initiatives, Zuayter emphasized the significance of local community ownership and the importance of planting productive trees. These productive trees offer multifaceted benefits, encompassing environmental, economic, and social aspects, which bolster community resilience and contribute to meeting the necessary level of adaptation.

Finally, she exposed the injustice and double standards of climate summits that advocate for reducing agriculture in the Global South as a way to reduce emissions. She argued that the responsibility for emissions reduction should be shifted from those who make the least contributions to the countries and sectors that are the largest emitters. To achieve climate justice, it is imperative to establish compensation programs that address the damage inflicted on those who contribute the least but are the most vulnerable, such as the Arab region. This unjust distribution of responsibility denies them sovereignty over their food and natural resources.