During lunch on 29 September 2017 with SMA colleagues, Don Mullan was listening to a discussion about the SMA Thumbprint Campaign for Climate Justice. Gerry Forde (Justice Desk) and Dympna Mallon (Laity Coordinator) were discussing the possibility of involving Irish school children in planting trees in Ireland as a dimension of the Thumbprint Campaign.
Earlier that day Mullan had received a WhatsApp text from a friend, 80-year-old Irish missionary, Fr. Pat Clarke CSSp, who has spent most of his adult life fighting for the rights of the people in Sao Paulo’s favelas, and the indigenous peoples affected by illegal logging in both the Amazon and the remnants of Brazil’s Atlantic Rain Forests.
The text included a link to a short BBC documentary about Africa’s Great Green Wall. Something that Mullan had never heard about. A wall, when completed, that would span the width of the continent of Africa, in the Sahel belt south of the Sahara Desert, aimed at halting the desertification of the continent, due to Climate Change.
Mullan’s imagination was immediately set ablaze. For over a year he had listened with incredulity at the divisive proposal to build a wall along the southern border of the USA, to be paid for by Mexico! A wall with the specific purpose of keeping the poor of Central and South America from entering the territory of the United States.
Africa’s Great Green Wall, however, was different. A wall, which, if successful, will be ranked as a natural Wonder of the World. Mullan immediately recognized that this was a wall that all humanity could believe in because it had several noble objectives. However, he was surprised that, like himself, many had not yet heard of it, in Ireland and abroad, including senior politicians and civil servants.
Due to desertification, caused by Climate Breakdown, 60 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to migrate during the 2020s. African nations have decided to take action with a project aimed at restoring degraded land.
The Great Green Wall will span 11 countries. It will measure 8,000 kilometers from east to west and will be 15 kilometers in depth.
While listening to his colleagues discuss their ideas, Mullan showed them the BBC video sent by Fr. Clarke and suggested the idea of establishing The ‘Laudato Tree’ Project ©*. Mullan’s idea is inspired by the historic and groundbreaking environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’, issued in 2015 by Pope Francis and addressed not just to Roman Catholics, but to all the peoples of the world, on care for our common home. The title of the encyclical Laudato Si’ is, itself, inspired by the great Canticle of Creation by St. Francis of Assisi, after whom Pope Francis is named.
In the following short BBC documentary, you will see Senegalese women, already engaged in building the wall, who are singing:
“Praise to the trees [Laudato Trees!]
The wall will bring you prosperity”
They have already planted over 11 million trees!
The Senegalese women, along with Pope Francis, inspired Mullan to develop The “Laudato Tree” Project ©. Initially, the project will encourage the planting of trees in Ireland and also along Africa’s Great Green Wall.
“This is a historic moment.” Mullan says. “For too long colonial powers and multinationals stole the resources of Africa and exploited its people. This is an African initiative that we can all be part of, the growing of a world wonder, that will be a symbol of transformative hope, not just for Africa, but for the entire world.”
Mullan has offered The Laudato Tree Project in Ireland as part of the SMA’s commitment to fighting Climate Breakdown and engaging in a positive and creative way to help heal the earth. He has offered it as an extension of the SMA Thumbprint Campaign for Climate Justice in Ireland. Mullan also sees the Projects potential to have an impact internationally and has negotiated with the World Meeting of Families 2018, scheduled to take place in Dublin from 22-25 August 2018, a prime location.
You are encouraged to watch the short BBC video below. For further information on The Great Green Wall Project, please click here.
Mullan has established a working relationship with the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), pioneering the Great Green Wall, and is negotiating their support for The ‘Laudato Tree Project’ in Ireland. Mullan has discussed with the UNCCD the importance of building a popular global movement to ensure the wall is completed by 2030.