Action Against Desertification

Boosting large-scale land restoration and renewable energy solutions for sustainable development along Africa’s Great Green Wall

Experts discuss roadmap to scale up climate finance for greater resilience against climate change and improved livelihood opportunities for rural communities


Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire – Leading experts from Africa and beyond are meeting in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to discuss ways of shoring up funding for the Great Green Wall initiative — a  major rural development scheme to help more people in Africa’s drylands cope with the consequences of climate change and desertification.

Established ten years ago, the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel initiative has rallied an impressive alliance of African nations, international organizations, research institutes, civil society and an increasing number of rural communities to support its vision of providing a lifeline for the continent’s most vulnerable people.

However, to bring long-term solutions so communities can thrive once more, while responding to challenges such as climate change and drought, hunger and malnutrition, the Great Green Wall must do more if it is to roll out a great mosaic of productive landscapes across North Africa, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.

“(There is a) need to boost efforts to put in place innovative financial mechanisms in support of the Great Green Wall and to (support) resilience building to climate change as a whole,” said Anne Désirée Ouloto, Minister of the Environment of Côte d'Ivoire, speaking as Vice-President of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN).

Germain Dasylva, FAO Representative in Côte d’Ivoire added: “Climate change and the combined challenges of deforestation, desertification, loss of biodiversity, food and energy insecurity, as well as poverty call for an integrated approach and partnership on a large scale.” 

Land degradation not yet irreversible

The Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW) and the African Union Commission (AUC) — supported by key development partners, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) — are meeting with Great Green Wall country representatives and other technical and financial partners in Abidjan this week to discuss the way forward.

Early results in land restoration are encouraging, suggesting that land degradation is not yet irreversible. Under the Action Against Desertification project, for example, an estimated 12 000 hectares of degraded land were planted between 2015 and 2017 to start their restoration.

Action Against Desertification, an initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and implemented by FAO and partners with funding from the European Union, puts local communities at the centre of restoration work by focussing on their needs for useful native plant species and water resource conservation and management. This is key for successful restoration and to transform degraded lands into productive and economically viable areas. 

Yet, these achievements pale in comparison with the scale of action that is really needed. According to the Global Drylands Assessment, conducted by FAO and partners in 2015-2016, around 10 million hectares must be restored each year to halt and reverse land degradation along the Great Green Wall by 2030. 

Expand Great Green Wall’s contribution to climate change adaptation and mitigation

The AUC, AfDB, the PAGGW and FAO are working together on a large-scale programme to help the Great Green Wall countries achieve the targets set out in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. 

In Abidjan, they aim to work out a collaborative programme that provides an umbrella framework for a pipeline of projects contributing to a common Great Green Wall vision.  Partners will discuss their respective roles and plan project submissions to available sources of climate finance, including the Green Climate Fund.

The programme integrates forest and land use sectors, renewable energy solutions, large scale restoration of agrosilvopastoral landscapes, as well as smallholder agricultural value chain improvements in support of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Efforts will be supported by a comprehensive monitoring and reporting system, as well as capacity development to sustain an enabling environment. 

At the same time, partners are preparing a round table for scaling up investments for the Great Green Wall during the upcoming PAGGW’s Heads of State Summit.