All over the world, mayors and local authorities are taking climate action through tree-planting in and around cities. The benefits of urban forests are plentiful: aside from filtering air pollutants, a single tree can absorb up to 150kg of CO2 per year, help regulate urban temperatures, reduce landslides, control surface water, and limit flood damage. Increasingly, cities are recognizing trees as crucial allies in the fight against polluted air and climate change. The value of access to parks and green areas for citizens’ welfare is felt more acutely than ever at the current juncture, when many cities around the world close them to enforce social distancing and forced home confinement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government of Turkmenistan is joining these initiatives by supporting the “Trees in Cities Challenge”, a global tree-planting campaign launched at the 2019 Climate Action Summit. At the Regional Forum for Sustainable Development in the UNECE Region held on 19 March, it announced its intention to plant over 2.2 million trees in the country’s cities in 2020, out of which 1.6 million trees will be planted in the capital, Ashgabat.
With this pledge, Turkmenistan’s cities joined the ranks of cities like Podgorica (Montenegro, Victoria (Canada), Vancouver (USA), Tirana (Albania), Helsingborg (Sweden), Bonn (Germany), Malaga (Spain), Mexico City (Mexico), Barcarena (Brazil), Turin (Italy), Sofia (Bulgaria), Tbilisi (Georgia) and Nof Hagalil (Israel), bringing the overall commitment under the “Trees in Cities Challenge” to over 10.8 million.
Some participating cities are seeing the Challenge as a unique opportunity to engage with citizens. For instance, the city of Victoria invited citizens to contribute to meeting the city’s 5,000 trees target, by disseminating guidelines on urban tree planting and creating a tree-tracker to monitor progress.
Reflecting on the progress of the Challenge thus far, UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova noted “I am delighted to see such interest in the Trees in Cities Challenge and would like to thank local authorities for seizing the momentum to take climate action. I invite Mayors from all over the world to join their peers in this initiative, once we have overcome the emergency situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The potential of urban forestry as a nature-based solution to climate change will be one of the topics discussed at the upcoming UNECE Forum of Mayors, to be held on 6 October 2020 in Geneva.
For more information please visit: https://treesincities.unece.org/
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