Irish missionaries are spearheading an attempt to plant a million trees as part of the greening of one of the driest regions in Africa.
The Republic has been invited by the United Nations to take a leadership role in helping to liberate the Great Green Wall and combat desertification in a huge strip of land south of the Sahara known as the Sahel.
The Laudato Tree Project, led by the Society for African Missions (SMA), hopes to create a lasting legacy from the Pope's visit to Ireland in August.
Irish President Michael D Higgins is expected to deliver a major speech on the issue of desertification and the country's response in Dublin today.
Don Mullan, spokesman for the Society for African Missions (SMA), said: “Like the Emerald Isle, the Great Green Wall of Africa gives Ireland the opportunity to establish a new beginning and demonstrate a new commitment to deliver on the promises made during the Paris Agreement. "
Africa's Green Wall, when completed, will span 13 countries. It will be 8,000 km long (4,970 miles) and 15 km wide (nine miles).
The Great Green Wall, in Virtual Reality
The UN proposal would also involve schools, parishes and community groups in planting trees in Ireland, increasing biodiversity and contributing to atmospheric improvement.
Mr Mullan added: "We will ask the Government to consider pairing every tree we plant in Ireland with a 5-10 along the Great Green Wall."
The project takes its name from a 2015 papal encyclical by Pope Francis, Laudato Si ', on caring for the environment, and is intended to be a visible expression of the encyclical's intervention.
The Pontiff will visit Ireland this summer as part of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin.
Mr. Mullan said: “We hope this becomes a legacy project for the World Meeting of Families in the hope that the groups that come will bring the idea of the Laudato Tree Project to their respective countries with the intention of increasing biodiversity in home while defending the cause of the Great Green Wall of Africa.
"We hope this becomes a global movement in support of Africa."
The executive secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Monique Barbut, will meet with the president and members of the Government this week.
Mr Mullan added: "The UN has made an important proposal to Ireland in terms of taking a leadership role in Europe and on the international scene to help advance, develop and achieve the Great Green Wall."
He said: "Unlike the proposed wall along the US-Mexico border, this is a wall that everyone can believe in."
"It's about fighting global warming and helping provide food, jobs and a future for the millions of people who live in a region that is on the front lines of climate change."
Ireland has one of the lowest levels of forest cover in Europe and Mullan said it was necessary to increase it to promote biodiversity and as a statement of intent that Ireland was serious about meeting its greenhouse targets and meeting commitments made during the Agreement. from Paris.
He and his colleagues are pushing for government support as a way to correct perceived shortcomings around green energy use.
A range of views have been expressed on whether Ireland is on track to meet its 2020 renewable energy targets.
Irish government chief Joe McHugh will coordinate a high-level ministerial meeting this week in Dublin with those behind the plan.
He said: “This is a hugely ambitious project and when you think about it, it is exactly the kind of global response that is needed to tackle climate change.
“I've seen the impact on rural communities in Africa and at the heart of that, it's about protecting life and preserving livelihoods and communities in some of the most affected parts of the planet.
"It's time to open our hearts and minds to great ideas like this."
- PA Article in English