By 2030, at least 100 million hectares of land and 10 million green jobs will be created across the Sahel region in Africa, one of the poorest in the world, announced the partners of the African-led Great Green Wall Initiative on the sidelines of COP14 to the United Nations Convention for Combating Desertification (UNCCD) being held in the National Capital Region.
The Sahel region of Africa – a nearly 3,860 km semi-arid expanse of sandy, barren, rocky land – is one of the most environmentally degraded regions in the world. According to the United Nations, the blow of climate change will be one of the worst in this part of the world as the temperature is projected to be at least 1.5 times higher than the global average.
The Sahel is also a hotbed of ethno-religious violence, political instability, food insecurity, poverty and natural disasters. In this context, the roadmap announced at the UNCCD summit here plans to accelerate positive outcomes in the Sahel region by 2030.
The meeting – which was co-chaired by Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General and Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture – highlighted that 65 per cent of land on the African continent is still degraded and urged the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW) to upscale and accelerate their initiatives to further advance social cohesion, climate action and economic development.
“We can’t afford to ignore the increases in the likelihood of violent conflicts and migrations that most affect women and children. When land suffers, so do people. This COP is urging partners to take bold actions needed to scale up and support partnerships that will accelerate the changes that we need,” said Amina Mohammed.
The Green Wall Initiative, supported by the African Union Commission, PAGGW and the international community, aims to restore Africa’s degraded landscapes in the Sahel, one of the world’s poorest regions and possibly lift millions out of poverty. It is now being implemented across 20 countries in Africa.
By 2030, the initiative aims to ensure restoration of 100 million hectares of degraded land, create 10 million green jobs through sustainable value chains and connecting local producers to lucrative global markets and promote clean energy along the Green Wall.
Aside from mobilising technical and financial resources for the Great Wall Initiative, it was also decided that opportunities offered by the youth and women will be the main drivers of change as part of gender mainstreaming exercise.
In the last few years, Sahel has been in the international spotlight due to extremism, poverty, famines, and human trafficking. As livelihood options decrease and social exclusion increases in the region, reversing land degradation will become one impactful way of restoring the local economy and the landscape.