Ethiopia has planted 5.5bn seedlings © Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Ethiopia has planted 5.5bn seedlings © Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

$20bn pledged for African Great Green Wall

21 January 2021

The African Great Green Wall initiative – an ambitious project to build a swathe of trees across the Sahara and Sahel regions – has received pledges for more than $20bn in funding.

French president Emmanuel Macron announced the World Bank would commit more than $14bn in funding at the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity, co-organised by France, the United Nations and the World Bank. 

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has pledged to raise a further $6.5bn.

Plans to create the African Great Green Wall along the southern margin of Africa’s Sahara Desert, running 8,000 km from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea, have been underway since 2007.

But the initiative, which will cross 11 countries, has been stymied by lack of funds and by September 2020 had covered only 4% of its planned area, according to a progress report.

Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB president, said: “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 of Africa depends on the Great Green Wall. Without the Great Green Wall, in the face of climate change and desertification, the Sahel may disappear.”

Adesina said other AfDB initiatives such as Desert to Power, a programme to build the largest solar zone in the world in the Sahel, would complement the Great Green Wall project.

“This will provide electricity for 250 million people and help to protect the Great Green Wall. If there is no access to energy, the Great Green Wall will be no more than trees waiting to be turned into charcoal,” he said.

As part of the funding the World Bank announced plans to spend more than $5bn in funding to advance land restoration and degradation issues around Lake Chad.

The Great Green Wall programme aims to restore 100m hectares of degraded land by planting trees and other measures, and to create 10m green jobs by 2030.

Sahelian governments have estimated that in order to complete the project $33bn of investment will be required.

Senegal is reported to have planted 12m trees but it is not clear how many have survived.

Ethiopia has reportedly planted 5.5bn seedlings on 151,000 hectares of new forest and 792,000 of new terraces.

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