In a January announcement at the the "One Planet Summit" for biodiversity, President of France Emmanuel Macron committed to a $14 Billion USD grant to scale up work on the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative.
The GGW, which was established in 2007, is Africa’s flagship initiative to tackle climate change, desertification and land degradation across the Sahel region - which covers the land surrounding the Sahara Desert in Africa.
The World Bank has also pledged in a statement made at the One Planet Summit, that they would contribute $5 Billion USD over the next five years to support Sahel’s fight against desertification.
An additional $14.5 Million USD investment will be contributed by the World Bank’s PROGREEN global fund to support green efforts in Chad, Niger, Mauritiana, Mali and Burkina Faso.
This new funding will be a major lifeline for the project which has fallen behind on its goal to restore 100 million hectares of land by 2030 having only covered 4% of the planned area by September 2020.
A report published by the United Nations in September last year, revealed that the GGW project needs to improve its annual restoration rates to 8.2 million hectares to achieve its goal of 100 million hectares by 2030. The UN report estimated that this could cost up to $4.3 Million USD per year.
More than 20 African countries, as well as a broad set of international partners including the United Nations and the European Union, are now involved in the GGW. According to the initiative, the GGW will be the world’s largest living structure at 8,000 km long upon completion, which is around 3 times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.
Climate change has exacerbated desertification and land degradation by causing more frequent and severe flooding droughts and fires, not just in Sahel, but across the globe.
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said that years of constant environmental abuse has resulted in “nature striking back”.
He went on to mention that nature-based solutions like GGW provide the chance to improve the condition of the planet: “With smart policies and the right investments, we can chart a path that brings health to all, revives economies, builds resilience and rescues biodiversity.”
World Bank Group President David Malpass revealed that the Sahel region is particularly vulnerable to desertification, with 80% of farmlands already degraded, reducing food security for millions of people across the region.
With the population of Sahel expected to increase by up to 50% by 2039, this means that food security and land restoration is crucial in order to sustain a growing population.
The new GGW funding will not only help to improve food security, create green jobs and restore degrading land, but it will also contribute the UN Sustainable Development Goals including achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030.