Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Director General  Qu Dongyu
Declaración del Director General de la FAO Qu Dongyu
Solo es auténtico el texto pronunciado

New York, 21 September 2019


Climate Action Summit Side Event: Great Green Wall for Cities Announcement


Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and friends,

It’s the first time on behalf of FAO that I address these issues publicly.

I assume you know that urbanization is accelerating, and the proportion of people living in cities will be almost 70% in 2050, with 90% of the increase occurring in Africa and Asia.

For the most part, the rapid expansion of cities takes place without land use design, and the resulting human pressure causes highly damaging environmental effects through the clearing or degradation of forests and other green spaces in and around urban areas.

I think we need to deal with this problem, which is particularly severe in drylands, where the effects of climate change are expected to increase the exposure of cities and surrounding areas to severe droughts, sand and dust storms, heatwaves, extreme winds, floods and landslides.

This affects countries with millions of people by reducing accessible basic services such as water and energy, damaging infrastructure, and accelerating health problems related to heat and air pollution.

Forests, as I see my friend already mentioned, have a role to play in strengthening resilience to climate change, especially for people who live in cities.

I just came early this morning from Washington DC. One can make a big difference between New York and DC.

Mitigating heating in fact reduces the probability of extreme weather events, filters the air, provides water and food and helps agriculture, with an overall positive impact on people’s health and well-being.

People used to come to the city, living in downtown areas, but now more rich people live outside of the city center, with more trees and more green areas. This happens even in relation to hotels. Now many people prefer to stay in a hotel with gardens and even golf courses. That's the value of green spaces, grasslands and forests.

About 10 years ago, I was a governor in one province of China. We created a park for the people in a newly designed city. When you plant trees, it is not just for the greenery, but for people to enjoy, to do exercises.

I heard one mayor from Victoria talking about a cycling area to combine trees, with flowers, lambs. That's a real human-made park. Let the trees grow for about 10 years and they will really come to rehabilitate the area for people to live.

If well managed, urban forests can reduce air temperature, reduce the cost of air conditioning, reduce flooding and improve air quality by filtering dust and pollutants.

That's why we are proposing to create the Great Green Wall of Cities. Once completed, the Wall will be able capture 0.5-5 Gigatonnes of CO2 per year.

The initiative will provide a wide range of ecosystem services. It will create employment for the establishment and maintenance of new and existing forests and trees.

It’s a form of job creation. While in that case, the forest park will be surrounded by people, and residential areas. It's a kind of green job.

In order to move the program forward, we have discussed with our partners with global backgrounds to provide financial and technical support to both national and local projects, as well as public-private partnerships.

We are looking forward to further expanding our partnerships around these ambitious ideas. Because when FAO talks about food and agriculture, it also includes forestry. FAO has a Forestry Department. We also have a Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, as well as an Animal Production and Health Division.

So we are open to cooperation with any mayors who are interested. We want to share our experience and knowledge. Through our assistance, we wish to make this beautiful world even better.

Thank you.