It is time for coordination and renewed support for the Great Green Wall, Africa’s landmark sustainable development programme, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu has stressed.
“We have to promote sustainable eco-economies. Restoration and associated livelihood benefits must be scaled up,” Qu said to heads of United Nations agencies and other multilateral entities at a round table on how to roll out a project that spans 8,000 kilometers and aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded landscapes by 2030.
The Great Green Wall Initiative, endorsed by the African Union in 2007, is a response to the challenge of desertification and climate change along the arid strip of land in the Sahara-Sahel region, stretching from Senegal to Djibouti. FAO has played a leading role in initial projects linked to the initiative, which have showcased its potential and identified its needs.
Significant political will and financial resources will need to be mobilized and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, led by FAO and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) with the Great Green Wall as its flagship programme, is well suited to lead the coordination effort.
Today’s meeting was jointly organized by FAO, UNEP and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and consisted of a presentation on projects implemented so far under the initiative and the way ahead to 2030, along with a discussion on how to leverage cooperation opportunities.
The Great Green Wall initiative has evolved into a comprehensive integrated ecosystem management whose 2030 goals include creating 10 million green jobs and the sequestering of 250 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Accelerating efforts to achieve those bold aims will produce global benefits by contributing to climate change mitigation, prevention of biodiversity loss and the transformation for the better of the lives of millions of people.
The FAO Director-General also urged that the spirit of the iconic project in Africa be expanded in a “Great Green Wall for Cities” vision extending to other continents. He encouraged countries to plan pilot projects soon. Preserving natural ecosystems is critical but often it is necessary to build new ones using nature-based solutions, he added.