The Fifteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) opened in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on May 9. It is focusing on the major international challenge represented by the degradation of land and its transformation into dry zones, affecting nearly 30 million acres each year. Desertification could displace 135 million people in the coming decades. France’s participation in the COP15 therefore reflects the urgent need for a coordinated response to this global phenomenon, which cannot be separated from the various climate crises and the loss of biodiversity, and its serious social and economic ramifications.
France and its European partners are presenting several initiatives within the framework of the French presidency of the EU Council, together with their African partners. The Great Green Wall project for the Sahara and the Sahel will be one of the discussion topics. At the One Planet summit on January 11, 2021, President Macron helped make it possible to raise €16 billion for this regional land restoration initiative, which is vital to creating jobs.
In light of the Russian aggression in Ukraine and the ensuing food crisis, the COP15 is a good opportunity to publicize the European FARM (Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission) initiative, which we are promoting with the support of international organizations such as the WFP and IFAD. President Macron discussed this yesterday with members of the African Union Bureau.
The COP15 also offers an opportunity to review the plant-based protein initiative launched at the EU-UA summit this past February. This initiative underscores the close connections between food security, nutrition and land restoration. Lastly, the EU and France announced that they would contribute €502 million to the Abidjan initiative launched by Côte d’Ivoire on the sustainable production of agricultural commodities, particularly cocoa beans. France contributed €155 million of that amount.