The Great Green Wall Accelerator: new impetus for this iconic African initiative

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Although long considered to be a tree-planting programme, the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative is in fact a rural development programme across the Sahel-Sahara strip. Its ambition is the integrated management of ecosystems to combat land degradation and desertification, the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss, and to tackle poverty and food insecurity in countries of the Sahel. The Great Green Wall Accelerator, launched in January 2021 at the 4th edition of the One Planet Summit in Paris, aims to strengthen, coordinate and monitor the implementation of the GGW in its 11 Member States.

What is the Great Green Wall initiative?

Approved by the African Union (AU) in 2007, the Great Green Wall is one of the first international initiatives on the environment and land management to bring together African countries and international partners. Designed to fight the effects of climate change and desertification in Africa, the project aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land in the 11 countries of the Sahel-Sahara strip, capture 250 million tonnes of carbon and create 10 million green jobs by 2030.
Originally, the Great Green Wall was planned to be a 15km-wide corridor crossing Africa for 7,800km along the Sahel. This historic initiative developed into a patchwork of projects tailored to specific regions and contexts, in the fields of conservation, sustainable land use, agricultural production and integrated water resources management.

All these actions must contribute to food security in one of the regions of the world hardest hit by malnutrition. The issues are also conserving biodiversity and climate change adaptation.

The 11 countries in the initiative are Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.

A harmonized and structured approach

At France’s initiative, the creation of the Great Green Wall Accelerator was announced at the One Planet Summit on 11 January 2021. The aim is to give new impetus to this iconic African Union initiative.
On that occasion, the President of the French Republic committed to closely follow progress as regards mobilizing donors for the Accelerator and its implementation.

At the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille on 6 September 2021, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs brought together institutional stakeholders, civil society, researchers and a few donors who were committed to the GGW. At this first meeting of Accelerator stakeholders since its launch, the general interest for this initiative was confirmed as the GGW is “one of the keys of the future of the Sahel” according to the Minister. This event showed the need for collective mobilization and dialogue among all stakeholders to take another step towards implementing this initiative which requires more coordination at regional level to effectively benefit populations.

This project allows us to meet the challenges of implementing the Great Green Wall by:

  • providing more coordinated support to States, structures and GGW member institutions;
  • supporting the implementation of the Great Green Wall initiative with a multi-actor, structured approach;
  • enabling more detailed mapping of the available financing and projects requiring financing, as well as the monitoring and impact assessment of financed projects and overall progress;
  • sharing knowledge and best practice among all technical and financial partners.

This platform is built around 5 pillars:

  • Pillar 1- Investment in small and medium-sized farms and strengthening of value chains, local markets and organization of exports
  • Pillar 2 - Land restoration and sustainable management of ecosystems
  • Pillar 3 - Climate-resilient infrastructures and access to renewable energy
  • Pillar 4 - Favourable economic and institutional framework for effective governance
  • Pillar 5 - Capacity building

The initiative’s partners have so far pledged almost €16 billion in international finance by 2025 for the countries concerned. Thanks to support from the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall and action from the 11 countries behind this project, this momentum will continue to be built in the years ahead.