President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, has been announced as a champion of Africa’s Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative.
The appointment was made at a forum held in the margins of the One Planet Summit 2021 to mobilise support for the ambitious project to plant an 8,000 km swathe of trees and other vegetation across the Sahara and Sahel regions of Africa.
The Green Wall will act as a barrier against desertification and aims to create over 10 million green jobs in the region.
“I would also like to welcome the commitment of Dr Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, who has agreed to take on the role of resource mobilization champion and help raise, by 2030, all the necessary funds for the realization of the Great Green Wall,” French President Emmanuel Macron told participants.
In the role of champion, Adesina will lead the mobilisation of political and economic support for the initiative.
“The Great Green Wall Initiative is the first step on the way to nature-based solutions as well as solutions based on the vitality of African eco-solutions,” said Macron.
“France is very committed to this region from the standpoint of security and sustainability. We need to beef up the initiative for all the 11 countries.”
During the forum, Adesina announced that the Bank would mobilize up to $6.5 billion over the next five years for the Great Green Wall Initiative, joining multilateral development institutions, governments and development partners that have pledged over $14 billion.
The World Bank, for instance, pledged over $5 billion in funding to advance land restoration and degradation issues and to address challenges around Lake Chad.
“The Great Green Wall is part of Africa’s environmental defence system — a shield against the onslaughts of desertification and degradation,” Adesina said.
“The future of the Sahel region of Africa depends on the Great Green Wall. Without the Great Green Wall, in the face of climate change and desertification, the Sahel may disappear.”
The Bank will extend resources through a range of mechanisms, partnerships and operations, and draw on internal and external sources of funding, including the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF), among others.
Adesina noted that ongoing initiatives of the AfDB such as the Desert to Power, a programme to build the largest solar zone in the world in the Sahel, will enhance and complement the Great Green Wall.
“This will provide electricity for 250 million people and help to protect the Great Green Wall. If there is no access to energy, the Great Green Wall will be no more than trees waiting to be turned into charcoal.”
The Bank has committed to mobilize $25 billion for climate finance by 2025.
The One Planet Summit 2021 is hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles.
The Summit, held annually, brings together political leaders, private sector decision-makers, foundations, NGOs and citizens to identify and accelerate funding for climate, biodiversity and ocean solutions and mobilize all stakeholders in public life and the economic world in collaborative efforts.
Other Great Green Wall Champions include musicians Baaba Maal and Ricky Kej and environmental activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim.
What is the Great Green Wall?
The Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel (or the Great Green Wall for short) is Africa’s flagship initiative led by the African Union to combat the increasing desertification in the aforementioned regions. The imitative was birthed in 2017.
The plan is to plan about 8,000 kilometre long swathes of trees, grasslands, vegetation and plants across the Sahara and the Sahel region of Africa.
Although the idea of the Wall started as an idea for a line of trees stretching from East to West bordering the Saharan Desert, it has now been expanded to include other interventions addressing challenges being faced by people in the Sahel and the Sahara.
The buffering wall is projected to help maintain the moistness of soils, thereby making room for climate restoration and allowing crops to grow around the trees.
“A decade in and roughly 15% underway, the initiative is already bringing life back to Africa’s degraded landscapes at an unprecedented scale, providing food security, jobs and a reason to stay for the millions who live along its path.
“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,” the Green Great Wall website reads.
In line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Wall aims to restore 100 million hectares of currently degraded land, sequester 250 million tonnes of carbon and create 10 million jobs in rural areas by 2030.