Climate Change

Pledges in Trees in Cities Challenge reach 11 million

Pledges in Trees in Cities Challenge reach 11 million

Photo: UNECE

Published

January 6, 2021

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Published:

January 6, 2021

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UNECE said 11 million trees would be planted as a result of its Trees in Cities Challenge. Mexico City pledged eight million. Tirana vowed to add almost one tree per inhabitant.

In the Trees in Cities Challenge, mayors around the world made commitments to plant 11 million trees. The campaign to promote climate action in cities was finished at the end of last year.

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Olga Algayerova initiated the effort. The Trees in Cities Challenge was launched in September 2019 with a message that urban areas are the main battleground in countering climate change.

By 2050, two thirds of the global population will be living in cities, so drastic action is necessary to make life there more sustainable and livable. Trees can cool outside temperature by as much as eight degrees Celsius and they purify the air from pollutants.

Mexico City to plant most of trees in campaign

Mexico City led the way by pledging to plant eight million trees. It is one of the biggest cities in the world, with 22.6 million people in its metropolitan area. Ashgabat landed second in absolute terms. Turkmenistan’s capital city has just over one million people, but it will plant 1.6 million trees! The contribution of Albania’s capital Tirana’s is also impressive. It added half a million trees to the tally or almost one per inhabitant.

Tirana vowed to plant half a million trees

Sofia is next on the list in the region covered by Balkan Green Energy News, with 12,486 trees. Authorities in Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro, pledged to plant 10,000 trees. Lakatamia and Athienou in Cyprus made a commitment to plant 3,000 and 1,500 trees, respectively.

Simple way to improve living conditions

The Trees in Cities Challenge localizes the struggle to mitigate climate change and foster urban sustainability. It is a voluntary initiative aimed at mayors and corresponding urban authorities in cities across the world.

“By making a tree-planting pledge, and putting this commitment into action, cities can make a real difference in a way that is simple and cost effective. The future of your city is in your hands. Let us make the future generations proud of us,” Algayerova said.

UNECE pointed to the fact that trees absorb carbon dioxide and reduce the need for air conditioning by as much as 30%. Trees in urban areas help tackle stress, prevent obesity and accelerate the recovery from illnesses.

Trees mitigate climate change, strengthen communities in cities

They also contribute to urban biodiversity. A single tree can absorb up to 150 kilograms of CO2 per year, which helps mitigate climate change. Trees also help control land erosion and lower the risk of flooding.

The City of Victoria in Canada, which pledged to plant 5,000 trees, included private land in the program. All participants keep track of progress and report and share the experience.

UNECE said urban green areas have a positive impact on social cohesion and help to form stronger communities. They can also lift the value of surrounding property by up to 10%, the campaign’s representatives added.

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