The high cost of restoring climate affected land is shown clearly in the ambitious Great Green Wall for the Sahel and Sahara Initiative (GGW)
The Great Green Wall Accelerator Initiative will release funding to restore degraded land on the Sahel and Sahara borderthatwill need at least US$10 billion in new funding to be thrown at it, before any real progress will be achieved.
The funding has been established to fast track efforts in restoring degrading land, save biological diversity as well as create green jobs and build resilience of the Sahelian people.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France, made the announcement at the just concluded One Planet Summit for Biodiversity co-organized by France, the United Nations and World Bank.
The GGW snakes along the southern margin of Africa’s Sahara Desert running from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea.
The Great Green Wall Accelerator makes up 30% of US$33 billion needed to achieve the Great Green Wall’s ambitions toward the year 2030.
Mohamed Cheikh El-Ghazouani, President of Mauritania and current chair of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall, welcomed the Accelerator program on behalf of the region.
“We welcome the announcement of the Great Green Wall Accelerator Initiative, whose objective is to release an initial contribution over the period 2021-2025, to give effect to the commitments of the financial partners in a coordinated framework,” said Ghazouani.
“The mobilization of this additional funding through an innovative approach will certainly contribute to the achievement of the Great Green Wall goals, which aim by 2030, for the restoration of 100 million hectares of degraded land and the creation of 10 million green jobs.
“This initiative will certainly facilitate the alignment of our partners’ interventions, in response to the concerns raised by our Ministers of Environment at the last Great Green Wall Conference,” said Ghazouani.
Ghazouani stressed that it would,”Enable our countries, in accessing the necessary funds, to increase local investments within the framework of the five pillars adopted and to strengthen the capacities of the national agencies of the Great Green Wall.
“In this context, I would like to suggest the establishment, in each of our countries, of a biodiversity Fund into which we will contribute a portion of the resources resulting from the cancellation of our debts. Cancellation that we call for with all our hearts.”
“Pandemic recovery is our chance to change course. With smart policies and the right investments, we can chart a path that brings health to all, revives economies and builds resilience.
“Innovations in energy and transport can steer a sustainable recovery and an economic and social transformation. Nature-based solutions – such as Africa’s Great Green Wall – are especially promising,” said António Guterres, UN Secretary General.
Since its inception in 2007, the Great Green Wall (GGW) has partnered with stakeholders to regreen the region and create an 8,000 km long world wonder involving at least 11 countries and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The GGW Initiative, now well into its second decade, is an African-led flagship program demonstrating how to harness the power of nature.
It’s aim is to provide policy solutions to multiple and complex environmental threats, such as land degradation, desertification, drought, climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty and food insecurity, simultaneously.
The GGW has inspired many African countries which are now associated with it and its work is contributing to the implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
GGW is among the iconic global campaigns targeted for completion during the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration ending in 2030.
The virtual ‘One Planet Summit’ for biodiversity held on 11 January 2021 in Paris was an opportunity to raise the level of ambition of the international community in protecting nature.
While responding to the questions raised by the COVID-19 pandemic as we collectively mobilise resources to build back better and improve livelihoods in the Sahel through the Great Green Wall Initiative.
The summit is mobilising resources, heads of government and partners as well as leaders of international organizations, financial institutions, the business sector and NGOs.
It is seeking commitments for concrete action to preserve and restore biodiversity, and to launch transformational initiatives to aid nature to heal in some of the world’s most degraded locations that can no longer support life.
The history behind the Great Green Wall (GGW)
The Great Green Wall is an African-led initiative, which aims to restore the degraded landscapes of the Sahel – one of the world’s most impoverished regions.
People in the Sahel region of Africa live off the land – in a literal sense – and depend on its productivity for their everyday survival.
Consider that 80% of the population there still rely on rain-fed agriculture for work but 65% of African land is degraded.
In last 30 years, the region has been devastated by severe droughts and massive loss of fertile land due to climate change, over-farming and unsustainable land management practices.
But people are fighting back: The aim is to restore 100 million hectares and create 10 million jobs by 2030.
Already much has been achieved – In Senegal, more than 12 million trees have been planted; In Ethiopia, 15 million hectares have been restored.
Nearly 18% of the Wall is estimated to be complete.
Once complete, the Wall will stretch an extraordinary 8000 km across the entire width of the Continent – a new world wonder for a modern age.
The Wall is a compelling symbol for all humanity that we can take action against our degrading planet. If the world’s poorest can do it, so can we all.
The main cause of the land degradation
The combined effects of poor land management practices, overgrazing, population growth and the emerging threat of climate change caused vast areas of land to be degraded in the Sahel.
Without sufficient productive land to grow food or sustain decent lives, a spiralling cycle of poverty quickly emerged.
In the face of increasingly desperate circumstances, community leaders and political visionaries such as Burkina Faso’s revolutionary leader, Thomas Sankara, started to look for a long-term solution.
In the 1980s, the extraordinary idea of transforming the region’s degraded landscapes through a ‘Great Green Wall’ stretching across the width of Africa, from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East, started to gain traction.
But it took another two decades before the idea was actually realized – when former President Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Wade of Senegal put it firmly on the international agenda once more at the 7th Summit of the Heads of State of CEN-SAD in June 2005.
Finally, in 2007, the initiative was officially endorsed by the African Union and a decade down the line we see that there are now more than 20 countries involved and supported by the international community.