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Africa’s Great Green Wall and the ‘Laudato Tree’ Project

Don Mullan Don Mullan

On Monday, November 18, 2019 at 7 p.m. in Romita Auditorium the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue of the Deignan Institute for Earth and Spirit welcomed journalist, author, filmmaker, and humanitarian Don Bosco Mullan to share his current global engagement: Africa’s Great Green Wall and the ‘Laudato Tree’ Project.  An enthusiastic audience of students, Iona faculty and members of the public were treated to a special presentation about a project that has begun to attract attention not only in Africa but lately in Europe as well.  Don Mullan has established a working relationship with the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), pioneered the Great Green Wall, and is negotiating support for the ‘Laudato Tree Project’ in Ireland where he was recently received by the President of Ireland, Mr. Michael Higgins. 

Don spoke movingly of his early life in the difficult times during the political unrest in his native Northern Ireland, especially in Derry, his home city, as “the troubles” pulled so many of his contemporaries into the violent vortex.  His profound decision to move away from the violence and work for peaceful solutions changed the basic course of his life and career.  The account he rendered of the awful events of “bloody Sunday” became a best seller, an award-winning motion picture and ultimately generated the most expensive judicial review in British history. Don’s thirst for justice has now led him to the massive task he described to us at Iona. His recent engagement with the legacy of Wangari Matthai, Nobel Prize winner and powerful force behind the million-tree campaign in Kenya, has led him to take on a significant role with the Green Wall project which is also endorsed by the African Union.  His presentation moved across the difficulties of enrolling advocates and convincing sponsoring agencies to assist the United Nations Commission to Combat Desertification.  He elaborated the plans to screen the film of the project and begin to link 8,000 programs across the globe.  The 8,000 local efforts would link the project and stand symbolically as a sign of the 8,000-kilometer span of the finished Green Wall. Mullan has discussed with the UNCCD the importance of building a popular global movement to ensure the wall is completed by 2030. 

Don Mullan and friends. Don Mullan and friends.
From left: Kelly Moltzen, Don Mullan, Lisbeth Guzman, and Moises Hernandez.

The presentation closed with Don engaging the group in heartfelt exchange about the great needs of the African continent.  He elaborated on his affection for its peoples along with the fact of the immense challenges of the largest population of youth on one continent just now coming of age and confronting the rigors and threats of climate change. They will need hope.
For further information on The Great Green Wall Project:

Don Mullan at Lectern in dialogue with Dr. Danny Martin Don Mullan at Lectern in dialogue with Dr. Danny Martin

Photo credits: K. Cawley