Barely hours after 100 actors from Africa and Europe signed a charter in support of pastoralism and livestock development in the Sahel, the African Development Bank unveiled plans to raise $6.5 billion to fund the region’s Great Green Wall Initiative.
The funds will mitigate losses wrought by the coronavirus in the world, with African economies absorbing the impact of the pandemic in Europe, America and Asia, the bank says in a dispatch.
ADB told a forum hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and Prince Charles of Wales via a communique that it would mobilise up to $6.5 billion over five years in support of the Great Green Wall Initiative. The forum took place on the margins of the One Planet Summit in the French capital, Paris on Monday.
Great Green Wall Initiative is a movement featuring an eclectic alliance of frontline communities, governments, philanthropists, impact investors, grassroots organisations, development partners, faith leaders, corporations, musicians, creative activists and green entrepreneurs with the epic ambition to grow the largest living structure on Earth. Part o the ambition is to reclaim the Sahel region by growing vegetation in the arid ecosystem.
In the communique after the meeting, African Development Bank said the “resources will be made available through a range of programmes in support of the Great Green Wall by drawing on internal as well as external sources of funding, such as the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa and the Green Climate Fund, among others.”
Taking the cue from the bank, multilateral development partners weighed in with funding pledges for the African-led initiative that aims to rejuvenate life in Africa’s current desert landscapes. The initiative will also expand food security, jobs and provide a reason for millions of Africans from Senegal to Djibouti to stay in the Sahel region.
According to ADB President Akinwumi Adesina, “As we rebuild from the coronavirus and its impacts on our world, we must also recalibrate growth. We must prioritise growth that protect the environment and biodiversity and we must de-prioritise growth that compromises our common goals.”
Mr Adesina addressed the summit virtually from Abidjan. “The Great Green Wall is part of Africa’s environmental defence system – a shield against the onslaughts of desertification and degradation. The future of the Sahel region depends on the Great Green Wall. Without the Great Green Wall, the Sahel region as we know it may disappear,” the told the delegates.
Climate change has led to extreme temperatures, fluctuating rainfall and drought in the Sahel, a region that is home to 250 million people living in ten countries. Millions of livelihoods and hard-won development progress are threatened.
The Great Green Wall’s movement plan is to plant 8,000 kilometres long and 15 kilometres wide mosaic of trees, grasslands, vegetation and plants across the Sahara and Sahel that can restore the degraded lands and help the region’s inhabitants produce adequate food, create jobs and promote peace in the region.
“The Great Green Wall is a wall worth building. A wall that brings people together, not one that pulls them apart. A wall that insulates, not one that isolates. A wall that protects our collective existence. A wall for the environment – a wall for the planet,” Adesina explained.
A lack of finance has been the project’s major constraint to realising its goal of creating 10 million jobs, sequestering 250 million tonnes of carbon and restoring 100 million hectares of degraded land in the 11 countries of the Sahel-Sahara region.
The bank has made the Sahel region a top priority for investment and mobilising new resources to advance Africa’s climate opportunities. One example is the Desert-to-Power programme to build the largest solar zone power in the world.
The programme will provide electricity to 250 million people in 11 Sahel countries and help protect the Great Green Wall. Over the next five years, Desert-to-Power aims to make available $2 billion for identified project opportunities for the Great Green Wall Initiative.
A lack of resources to adapt economies to the consequences of climate change is also one of the main constraints on the Sahel region’s development. The Global Centre on Adaptation hosted by ADB will mobilise resources and broker solutions to boost progress towards meaningful climate change.
“The establishment of GCA Africa marks a critical step in our endeavour to accelerate and strengthen our efforts to address the triple challenge of biodiversity loss, land degradation and climate change adaptation on the continent. We will develop and implement joint programmes that will mobilise resources at the scale to support the Great Green Wall,” said ADB Vice-President President, Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth Kevin Kariuki.
Another bank initiative key to transforming the Sahel region into a land of opportunities and inclusive green growth is the Technologies for African Transformation. The initiative aims to increase food output in Africa by 100 million tonnes and lift 40 million people out of poverty by 2025 by harnessing high-impact, proven technologies to raise productivity, mitigate risks and promote diversification and processing.
Technologies for African Transformation, for example, has provided Sudanese farmers access to heat tolerant maize.
In a major announcement, President Macron named President Adesina a Great Green Wall Champion. Adesina was recognised for his personal commitment to addressing climate change in Africa. The position will see the Bank President play a significant role in mobilising political and economic support for the Initiative.
Pledges from others during the meeting, included €1 billion of new financial and technical support to back sustainable agriculture, clean energy, water, infrastructure and private sector financing in 11 Sahel countries from the European Investment Bank and €600 million from the Agence Française de Dévelopment (AFD).
- A Tell report/jk