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Great Green Wall Initiative to get ‘visionary roadmap’

Partners of the African-led Great Green Wall Initiative have agreed to develop a visionary roadmap, a decade after its launch, with bold targets to restore 100 million hectares of land and create 10 million green jobs by 2030 across the Sahel.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General and some participants at the UNCCD COP14

The agreement was reached at a High-Level Breakfast meeting held in New Delhi, India on Monday, September 9, 2019 on the margins of the Fourteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

It was co­-chaired by Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, and Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture.

During the meeting – facilitated by the UNCCD Secretariat, in collaboration with the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW), represented by Marieme Bekaye, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Mauritania and President of the Council of Ministers – partners commended current progress by Great Green Wall member states, supported by the AU, PAGGW and international community.

Raising concerns that 65% of land on the African continent is still degraded, partners called for the initiative’s swift upscaling and acceleration, to further advance social cohesion, climate action (both adaptation and mitigation) and economic development via a transformative ecological corridor that supports millions of lives.

During the meeting, partners agreed that the roadmap would focus firmly on the Initiative’s contribution to 15 of the 17 SDGs. By 2030, the initiative aims to ensure:

  • Large-scale landscape restoration – with a target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land to transform the lives of those living on the frontline of climate change and desertification
  • Creation of 10 million green jobs including through sustainable value chains and connecting local producers to lucrative global markets
  • Promotion of clean energy, powering communities along the Wall to a brighter future and creating local economies that ensure land remains productive

Participants affirmed that in order to fulfil the ambitions of the Great Green Wall Initiative, and support the implementation of the roadmap, a more innovative approach and robust coordination mechanism are required for real transformation and resource mobilisation, including to leverage the assets of the region and the opportunities offered by the youth and women as the main drivers of change.

A joint commitment was made to mobilise technical and financial resources, from the public and private sectors through win-win partnerships, recognising that private sector investment is vital in creating green jobs and wealth along the Wall and ultimately achieving the 2030 vision. Participants exchanged views on a myriad of opportunities the region offers, with an emphasis on sustainable value chains, renewable energy and rural entrepreneurship, and stressed the importance of changing the narrative to underscore the Sahel as a “land of opportunities”.

In the wake of the recent IPCC “Climate Change and Land” Report – which highlights land rehabilitation as one of the single most impactful ways to tackle the climate emergency – partners highlighted the need to capitalise on the growing political momentum behind initiatives such as the Great Green Wall.

It was noted that the upcoming UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit on September 23 would be crucial in further galvanising support, including within the framework of the nature-based solution track, to advance affirmative action for the Great Green Wall by 2030 and inspire a global restoration movement.

Participants in attendance included the African Union Commission, Pan African Agency of the Great Green Wall, Government Ministers – including those from countries participating in the Pan African Agency for the Great Green Wall Initiative; Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Heads of COP Delegation from UNCCD parties, the UN system, IGOs, regional actors; private sector stakeholders; civil society organisations, Great Green Wall Champions –  Baaba Maal, Ricky Kej, and Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim.

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