The Great Green Wall is expected to get a second wind after years of lethargy. The African Union’s (AU) flagship initiative to combat the effects of climate change and desertification in Africa has in fact just obtained major promises of funding to get back on track.
On the occasion of the “One Planet Summit” held yesterday in Paris (France), several development banks and bilateral donors pledged some $14.3 billion to the project.
These resources will be used to implement a series of programmes in support of the Great Green Wall, drawing on internal and external funding sources, including the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), the Green Climate Fund (GCCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The plan for the Great Green Wall is to plant a mosaic of trees, grasslands, vegetation and plants 8,000 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide across the Sahara and Sahel to restore degraded lands and help people in the region produce adequate food, create jobs and promote peace.
“There have been ups and downs but the Great Green Wall is part of the solution to provide a sustainable future for the people of the Sahel,” said French President Emmanuel Macron as he welcomed the pledges.
Speaking by videoconference from Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, stressed the importance of this project for the continent, saying it is “a shield against the onslaught of desertification and environmental degradation.”
“The Great Green Wall is part of Africa’s environmental protection system. The future of the Sahel region in Africa depends on it. Without it, the Sahel risks disappearing under the effects of climate change and desertification,” he warned.
For his part, the President of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki warned against false promises. “While the Sahel is struggling against terrorism, political crises, malnutrition, Covid-19 and other pandemics, the world would be making a serious mistake by allowing the climate crisis to worsen here,” he said.
To mitigate this eventuality, the French Head of State, Emmanuel Macron, pleaded for the creation of a secretariat of the Great Green Wall, attached to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, to ensure the monitoring of commitments. The Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall, hitherto responsible for coordinating the initiative at the continental level, will be officially associated with it.
In recent years, the lack of funding has been the project’s main constraint in achieving its goal of creating ten million jobs, sequestering 250 million tons of carbon and restoring 100 million hectares of degraded land in the eleven countries of the Sahelo-Saharan region.