Written by: Kimberly White 

Africa’s Great Green Wall Initiative has received a significant funding boost. 

During the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity, the initiative garnered financial support from the Government of France, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank. One of the major announcements of the One Planet Summit was the creation of the Great Green Wall Accelerator. 

Led by France, the Great Green Wall Accelerator aims to “inject fresh momentum” into the ambitious initiative. In total, the Great Green Wall Initiative received $14.3 billion in new funding to scale up its efforts. 

Officially launched in 2007, the Great Green Wall Initiative (GGW) aims to restore degraded landscapes across the Sahel. Since its launch, the African-led initiative has worked with a myriad of stakeholders to combat land degradation, desertification, and drought through the creation of an 8,000km long green wall spanning 11 countries, from Senegal to Djibouti. 

Sahelian countries are among those on the frontlines of the climate crisis. One of the world’s most environmentally degraded regions, temperature rise in the Sahel region is projected to be 1.5 times higher than the global average, according to the United Nations. The GGW will provide job opportunities, enhance food security, and grow resilience to climate change for millions of people in Africa. 

The initiative looks to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, sequestering an estimated 250 million tonnes of carbon. Through the restoration initiative, GGW hopes to create 10 million jobs throughout rural areas. 

Credit: Great Green Wall

As of September, approximately four percent of the GGW has officially been completed. Nearly 18 million hectares of land have been restored thus far, absorbing over 300 tonnes of carbon. From 2007 to 2018, more than 350,000 jobs have been created and approximately $90 million in revenues have been generated. 

“The GGW is yielding immediate benefits for the local communities and long-term ecosystem benefits at the international level. It shows that when countries dare to dream, work together and make the right choices, we can prosper and live in harmony with nature. And where innovative ideas emerge, positive, dramatic change that benefits both the local and international communities will happen,” the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification Ibrahim Thiaw stated in September. 

The initiative will need to restore 8.2 million hectares of land annually to reach its target by 2030. To do this, the GGW requires additional funds and support. Approximately $33 billion of investment will be needed to complete the Great Green Wall. The Great Green Wall Accelerator will provide a much-needed boost to achieve the initiative’s targets by 2030. 

“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 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. “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, at the restoration of 100 million hectares of degraded land and the creation of 10 million green jobs.”

Nature-based solutions such as the Great Green Wall have the potential to impact the climate crisis significantly. Natural climate solutions could reduce the total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent over the next decade. 

Nature-based solutions have been one of the most discussed environmental topics among world leaders amid the pandemic. 

“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.

Header Image Credit: Great Green Wall