GGWSSI13 May 2016: The first Global Conference on the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) issued the ‘Dakar Declaration,’ which aims to reverse land degradation and improve economic opportunities for populations across the Sahel and Sahara belt. Convened from 5-7 May 2016, in Dakar, Senegal, the Conference sought to build on the momentum generated at a High Level Summit on the GGWSSI held on the sidelines of the Paris Climate Conference, where US$4 billion was pledged to step up implementation of the Initiative over the next five years.

The GGWSSI aims to accomplish the following targets by 2030: restore 50 million hectares of land; sequester 250 million tons of carbon in the soil; ensure food security for 20 million people; support 300 million people in communities across the Sahel; create at least 350,000 jobs; and provide access for 10 million smallholder farmers to agricultural technologies resilient to climate change.

The Conference was organized around three days of technical sessions to exchange and share knowledge about programmes and projects in support of the Great Green Wall, and a one-day high-level segment that brought together Ministers, development partners and other stakeholders from the region. The discussions drew on experiences from several Great Green Wall projects, including: the World Bank and Global Environment Facility (GEF) supported Sahel and West Africa Program (SAWAP); the Action Against Desertification (AAD) programme, which is implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and funded by the partnership programme between the EU and Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP-EU); and the Front Local Environnemental pour une Union Verte (FLEUVE), an EU-funded Great Green Wall project coordinated by the Global Mechanism of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

One of the largest GGWSSI projects, SAWAP supports the implementation of a country-driven vision for integrated natural resource management and sustainable and climate-resilient development in the West African and Sahelian region. The programme builds on a series of World Bank investments amounting to $1.8 billion in co-financing in 12 countries, including an $80.4 million grant from the GEF Trust Fund.

In an article discussing plans to further scale up GGWSSI efforts, René Castro Salazar, FAO Assistant Director-General, Forests, noted that the “genius of this model is that it can be applied to any location with dry conditions and fragile ecosystems.” He welcomed the contribution of the Conference in communicating some of the inspiring results achieved so far, and sharing experiences further afield, “so that the wall’s impressive impact can give hope to other communities suffering from the scourge of desertification and climate change.” [UNCCD/Global Mechanism Press Release] [Global GGWSSI Conference Resources] [GGWSSI Website] [IISD RS Guest Article #56: A Great Green Wall of Hope for Africa] [IISD RS Story on UNCCD/GM Publications on Land Restoration and SDG Achievement] [FAO Action Against Desertification Website] [SAWAP Website]