The war against desertification in Africa has gotten a boost with funding coming from multinational donor agencies and the government of France.
The financiers committed a total of $25.5 billion to support the 8,000-kilometre-long Great Green Wall, which is an African-led initiative, spanning 11 countries to combat land degradation, desertification and drought.
At the recent One Planet Summit for Biodiversity the Great Green Wall for the Sahel and Sahara Initiative, the donor agencies and governments pledged to make funding available for the next ten years to restore lost lands.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), climate change is having a crippling impact on the Sahel, happening one and a half times faster than the global average, and causing the region to experience droughts every two years, instead of the typical 10-year cycle.
UNEP said the funding from the government of France, which committed $14 billion; the African Development Bank, $6.5 billion and the World Bank, $5 billion, would help strengthen the climate resilience, restore degraded land, create green jobs, and protect biodiversity in Africa.
The Great Green wall is growing vegetation and restoring a band of land from Senegal to Djibouti to help boost food security, improve health, and create thousands of new jobs and income opportunities for the communities living there.
According to UNEP, focus will be laid on sustainable land use, indigenous farming techniques and green jobs. The initiative has already planted billions of trees and supported tens of thousands of local households.
The Great Green Wall is the first flagship of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030, and UNEP, through the Global Environment Facility and other donors, operates many restoration projects along it.
“The year 2021 marks the beginning of the Decade for Ecosystem Restoration – and the Great Green Wall is an inspiring example of ecosystem restoration in action. This initiative alone won’t transform the Sahel’s fortunes overnight, but it is rapidly becoming a green growth corridor that is bringing investment, boosting food security, creating jobs and sowing the seeds of peace,” said Susan Gardner, Director of UNEP’s Ecosystems Division.
UNEP, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) are collaborating with 10 other UN agencies and Development Banks to coordinate the action in support of the GGW.
“The mobilization of this additional funding will contribute to the achievement of the Great Green Wall goals,” said Mohamed Cheikh El-Ghazouani, President of Mauritania and the Chair of Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Pan African Agency for the Green Great Wall.
“Pandemic recovery is our chance to change course,” the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said.
“With smart policies and the right investments, we can chart a path that…revives economies and builds resilience. Innovations in energy and transport can steer a sustainable recovery. Nature-based solutions – such as Africa’s Great Green Wall – are especially promising.”
Co-organised by France, the United Nations and World Bank, the One Planet Summit brought together world leaders to commit to action to protect and restore biodiversity.