In the sixteen years since a massive anti-desertification program started in the Sahel region of northern Africa, only 20% progress has been accomplished, and there are calls for more efforts and international funding.
To reach the Great Green Wall’s restoration target of 100 million hectares of land [247 million acres] by 2030, “an average of 8.2 million hectares of land [20 million acres] per year would need to be restored at an annual financial investment of US $4.3 billion,” the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification said in a February 2023 progress report.
While $16 billion has already been pledged to the wall, some $33 billion will be needed to complete it by 2030, E&E News reported late last year.
Recently, Nigeria Vice President Kashim Shettima addressed the inaugural “Great Green Wall Day Celebration.” held in mid-July at the State House Conference Centre in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. He called on all Nigerians and environmental stakeholders to regard the stalled Great Green Wall Initiative as an “Emergency Rescue Operation.”
As reported by The News Chronicle, Mr. Shettima urged listeners not to relax on the Great Green Wall Initiative despite the Sahel’s temperature extremes, desertification, drought, and other challenges.
“The completion of the Great Green Wall was a promise made by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in his campaign manifesto because the cost of doing otherwise threatens our collective existence. We are, therefore, pleased to share that this inaugural Great Green Wall Day is both an exercise in demonstrating our commitment to this initiative and an act of self-preservation,” Mr. Shettima said, according to Daily Trust.
Resolutions made one year ago on June 16 in Abuja at the 8th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of Member Countries have yet to be implemented, adding to the sense of urgency.
Launched in 2007 by the African Union, the Great Green Wall initiative is regarded as one of the world’s most ambitious land-reclamation projects. Backers believe the wall, which will stretch from the Senegal coast to the Red Sea, will help restore the continent’s forests, lead to hundreds of thousands of jobs, and sequester hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide, as well as bring other human and biodiversity benefits.