Great Green Wall Event at COP26
A statement by UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw
As the latest round of climate negotiations got underway in Glasgow, at an event co-hosted by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, French President Emmanuel Macron and Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazaouni, it was encouraging to see a strong focus put on efforts to scale up implementation of the Great Green Wall as a critical nature-based solution to climate change in Africa.
And in exciting news for the partnership, Jeff Bezos, Executive Chair of the Bezos Earth Fund, commended African leadership and recognized the impressive contributions of initiatives such as the Great Green Wall and AFR100. He pledged the Bezos Earth Fund’s support – 1 billions US$ for landscape restoration - creating long-term restoration solutions at an even greater scale in Africa.
UNCCD, as host of the GGW Accelerator, is delighted to see such bold public and philanthropic investments taking shape. We encourage partners to go further and also ensure the remaining bottlenecks to blended and private investment are overcome. The Great Green Wall can be a model for Africa and the world. Its success and its replication across the continent offer a pathway for genuine climate resilience and a way to get human development and nature in balance across Africa.
Land restoration in Africa is indeed a cost-effective nature-based solution to combatting climate change and COP26 represents a unique opportunity to demonstrate that the fight for the climate goes hand in hand with the fight for land and nature. Massively and quickly restoring African land to reduce poverty, reverse biodiversity loss and store planet-warming greenhouse gases makes compelling environmental, social and economic sense.
UNCCD therefore welcomes the support to the Great Green Wall initiative and to the wider African Land Restoration movement that is gathering pace.
The restoration of 100 million hectares of land by 2030 in this part of the Sahel is expected to create an estimated 10 million jobs and lock away 250 million tonnes of carbon in the soil. A decade in and now roughly 18 per cent complete, the Great Green Wall Initiative is bringing life back to Africa’s degraded landscapes.
Despite climate pressures, it is providing food security, jobs and a reason to stay for the millions who live along its path.
The challenge now is to ensure pledges made at the One Planet Summit in January 2021 are turned into hectares restored and truly climate smart development. The Presidents of Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal as well as high level representatives from Djibouti and Chad, who spoke passionately at the event, stressed that close coordination between financial partners and the countries themselves would be vital in that regard.
It was therefore heartening to see both partners in the Great Green Wall stepping up and delivering and to see the partnership for the Great Green Wall and the land restoration agenda in Africa expanding.
For example, the Green Climate Fund confirmed its 82.8 million USD project with IFAD in 7 Sahelian countries; large investments in Niger to bring smart agricultural practices resilient to climate change to smallholder farmers and its collaboration with the African Development Bank Desert to Power programme. At the same time, the World Bank Group commitment of 5.6 billion USD in January 2021 is being deployed quickly. To date, 4.1 billion USD is under implementation with 20% already disbursed.
About the Great Green Wall
The Great Green Wall is an African-led movement with an epic ambition to grow an 8,000km natural wonder of the world across the entire width of Africa. The Wall promises to be a compelling solution to the many urgent threats not only facing the African Continent, but the global community as a whole – notably climate change, drought, famine, conflict, and migration. Once complete, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet, 3 times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.