Ethiopia, a country highly vulnerable to extreme weather events, land degradation, deforestation and food insecurity, is stepping up its efforts to fight climate change, promote sustainable rural development and build resilience.
On Friday, two agreements were signed between the Government of Norway and the World Bank to provide significant financing for sustainable land management, climate-smart agriculture and forest protection in the country.
The first agreement injects an additional US$50 million grant funds from the Government of Norway through a trust fund to co-finance the Sustainable Land Management Program (SLMP II) aimed at reducing land degradation and increasing land productivity of smallholder farmers.
In the second agreement, Norway provides US$13 million through the World Bank's BioCarbon Fund (BioCF) to support Ethiopia's Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) Facility and to promote climate-smart agriculture, forest protection and land rehabilitation at the landscape level.
Norway's contribution complements initial funding of US$5 million from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID), and ongoing financing from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF).
"Norway is pleased to collaborate with the World Bank in supporting Ethiopia's ambitious efforts to fight land degradation, deforestation and climate change while promoting sustainable development in the land use sector," said Tove Stub, Charge d'affaires a.i., Royal Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa.
The two complementary programs have the potential to protect the natural resource endowment and to promote climate-smart land use in order to adapt and mitigate climate change and increase food security and resilience in a vast area of the country."
Under SLMP II, the Government of Ethiopia is building on the remarkable progress achieved during implementation of the program's first phase in reducing land degradation and increasing sustainable land and water productivity.
Under SLMP I, which started in 2008, over 190,000 hectares of degraded communal and individual farmlands have been rehabilitated and agricultural productivity has improved in areas that were hitherto found to be less productive.
SLMP II, a blended IDA credit (US$50 million) and GEF grant (US$14 million) with co-financing from Norway (US$50 million), scales up earlier achievements.
The ongoing process to reduce deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), a key pillar of Ethiopia's fight against climate change, will be significantly strengthened with support from the BioCarbon Fund.
This program will enable Ethiopia to fully finance its ongoing REDD+ readiness process and to develop a REDD+ pilot program at a Regional State level.
It will also provide advisory services to the CRGE Facility, in particular to enhance access to climate finance for REDD+ and other land-based activities.
"These funds will allow Ethiopia to become ready for REDD+ and will provide for an ambitious landscape-level program to address the causes of deforestation in the most forested region of our country, while also promoting social benefits to local communities," said Sileshi Getahun, State Minister, Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture.
The BioCF's new initiative provides an important boost to the activities of the CRGE Facility, which was established by the Government of Ethiopia to spearhead national efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2025.
"The World Bank expects that these two initiatives, including others not mentioned here, will contribute significantly to Ethiopia's efforts to deal with three of the most daunting challenges of our times: land degradation, deforestation and climate change. It is also a good opportunity for the Bank to share its global expertise on climate finance to provide advisory support to the CRGE Facility. These two initiatives strengthen the Bank's partnership for Ethiopia's sustainable development," said Guang Zhe Chen, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia.