Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu

Great Green Wall e-Round Table Meeting

Opening Remarks by Dr. QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General (Co-Host)

25 June 2020





It is my pleasure to co-host this exchange with UNEP and the UNCCD Secretariat.

FAO has been deeply engaged in the Great Green Wall implementation at regional, national and community level through our Action Against Desertification Programme.

This programme supports large-scale restoration interventions for smallholder farming on the ground.


For today’s exchange, I would like to highlight 3 relevant areas that will help us to collectively scale up implementation and relate to the key principles for collaboration that were evoked:

First: For the implementation of the great Green Wall, FAO has devised a comprehensive restoration approach that connects plant science to communities, mechanizes traditional methods and is adapted to larger scale restoration of agro-sylvo-pastoral landscapes in the Sahel.

Applied in the last five years in over 400 communities, this approach has already helped restore over 50 000 hectares of degraded barren lands, increasing land productivity – touching close to 1 million people.

Now this technical blue print is ready to be scaled up.

Second: Ecology and economy are closely linked

The environment, peace and development agendas must be tackled in an integrated manner with people at the centre.

Therefore, we need to continue to develop value chains of non-timber forest products.

These include Gum Arabic, fodder, honey, native seed oils among others.

This generates revenue and improves livelihoods and resilience of people, and targets mainly women in low-cash and vulnerable areas, while increasing vegetation cover and managing natural resources sustainably.

Third: Innovative monitoring and evaluation of operations is essential.

Every single hectare counts in the ambitious target set by the governments engaged in the Great Green Wall - namely to restore 100 million hectares by 2030.

FAO has trained national experts in each of the Great Green Wall countries to use modern geospatial technology and innovative tools to assess land use and land use changes and will continue to do so

Looking forward, I would like to stress three points:

Restoration and associated livelihood benefits must be scaled up. And it must happen now.

We must speed up mobilizing political will and the necessary financial resources for the Great Green Wall implementation in order to bring life back to Africa’s degraded landscapes and rural communities through Nature-based -solutions. Ongoing efforts for example with the Green Climate Fund and the upcoming UN Multi-donor Trust Fund for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration are prominent opportunities.

To succeed, our actions need to be coordinated. One mechanism for coordination could be the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, led by FAO and UNEP, which will have the Great Green Wall as its flagship programme.

Speeding up these actions will address climate change issues for our global benefit, reverse biodiversity loss and desertification, and transform the lives of millions of people for the better.

Let us work together, aim big and do concrete!

Thank you.