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The Great Green Wall

France announces $14 billion cash injection to speed up the process of slowing down the Sahara's creeping desertification.

The Sahara desert was once covered with flourishing, fertile land that supported the people who lived there, but gradual, relentless desertification has left the land all but inhabitable, plunging people on its margins into poverty and driving many to migrate.

To address the problem, the African Union launched the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative more than 13 years ago. The idea is to restore a massive 5,000 mile strip of desert (10 miles wide) from the Atlantic to the Red Sea by planting mosaic of trees, grasslands, vegetation and plants. The GGW is intended to recreate sustainable ecosystems, encourage climate-smart agriculture, create millions of jobs and, ultimately, transform the lives of 100 million people.

While the intention was to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, the reality is that only four million hectares have been restored between 2007 and 2019. A recent United Nations report declares that in order to reach the intended target, the current pace of land restoration must speed up to an average of 8.2 million hectares each year.

To help deliver this objective, French President Emmanuel Macron announced this week that development banks and states will pledge a total of $14 billion over the next four years to help accelerate the building of the Great Green Wall. That is 42 percent of the estimated $33 billion needed to achieve the GGW’s ambitions.

Once the 100 million hectare target is achieved, hopefully by 2030, the GGW would be capable of sequestering 250 million tonnes of carbon.



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