Make Africa’s Great Green Wall a Reality by 2030, Say Industry Leaders

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Bennett Oghifo

As the UN Climate Action Summit holds in New York, this week, global leaders from government, business and civil society are issuing an urgent call to action to grow an 8000km natural wonder of the world across the entire width of the African continent.

The Great Green Wall, an African-led movement, aims to, at once, drive forward climate-smart solutions and bring back life to degraded landscapes in order to provide food security, jobs and thriving new economies for the communities living in Africa’s Sahel region. An estimated 15% of the Wall is already underway.

Influential leaders from business, politics, media, the film and music industries will gather at Goals House in New York this week to spotlight the Great Green Wall as a practical, low-cost nature-based solution responding to the global climate emergency.

Participants are expected to call on governments, civil society and business to join a growing global movement to make the Great Green Wall a reality by 2030, according to a statement by UNCCD.

Jim Pisani, Global Brand President, Timberland, is expected to announce Timberland’s new commitment to the Great Green Wall initiative, as an example of how businesses are investing in this global movement.
Fernando Meirelles, Academy Nominated Director of City of God, and Executive Producer of The Great Green Wall feature documentary, and Hamzat Lawal, the Nigerian youth activist, are among the speakers.

The event will also feature musical performances by Songhoy Blues, Waje and Grammy-winning artist Ricky Kej as well as clips from the upcoming feature documentary titled, The Great Green Wall (Directed by Jared P. Scott), produced by MAKE Waves in association with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD is convening the event, which is jointly being organised by the UNCCD and Connect4Climate – World Bank Group represented at the event by Juergen Voegele, Global Director of the World Bank’s Climate Change Group.

The Sahel – where the Great Green Wall is taking root – is a political hotspot. Nearly 80% of the land in this region is degraded, 33 million people are currently food insecure and temperatures are expected by rise by as much as 3-5 degrees by 2050. The most pressing challenges that humanity will face this century are already evident here, from food and water shortages, to climate change, drought, migration, and international terrorism.

The Great Green Wall is often cast as a green belt stretching across the entire width of Africa from Dakar to Djibouti. But it is much, much more. It is a people-centered movement to restore the health of the Sahel’s eco-system and natural resources in order to build the resilience to drought of the communities living here, enhance their food security and empower them to generate new and sustainable income streams.

The Great Green Wall was launched a decade ago by the African Union, with the support of many partners that include UNCCD, the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and the European Commission.
Globally, 3 out of every 4 hectares of land have already been transformed from their natural state, putting nearly 1 million species on the path to extinction. Partners will underscore the global nature of the Wall as a symbol for humanity overcoming its greatest threat – our rapidly degrading natural world.

Growing the Great Green Wall shows that if we work with nature, even in challenging places such as the Sahel, we can overcome adversity together, and build a better world for generations to come.
According to Thiaw, “The Great Green Wall is a truly inspirational initiative, which is growing urgent solutions in the face of the 21st Century’s greatest challenges.”

Also, Voegele said, “We are pleased to support the Great Green Wall, a tremendous example of how we can fight poverty by revitalising degraded land through climate-smart practices.”

Jim Pisani, Global Brand President, Timberland: “As a brand pursuing a better future for our planet, Timberland is proud to join the Great Green Wall movement, which we see as crucial in supporting communities on the very frontline of the global climate emergency and building a more sustainable and equitable future.”
Timberland’s support of the Great Green Wall is part of the brand’s commitment to plant 50 million trees worldwide by 2025.