WEBINAR: Africa’s Great Green Wall: Can cities take it to new heights?

25 May 2021. This interactive session introduced the phenomenon known as The Great Green Wall or Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel and investigated and explored the crucial role that cities can potentially play. Cities, being at the forefront of development and modern life as we know it could be the link needed to elevate the GGW initiative. This session highlighted the benefits of having cities and their stakeholders as key enablers to the success of the GGW initiative, in addition to why they need to be considered important connecters in the initiative’s long-term success.

The kickstart of the Decade of Action provides an ideal opportunity to link and merge forces across boundaries towards collaborative action. The GGW objectives stretch beyond just the planting of trees, as it is also envisaged that the holistic social change will emerge seeing an increase in food security, reduced poverty and resilience to climate change are essential co-benefits. Linked to this is the realisation and drive towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at the local level. The high-level objectives of the GGW initiative encapsulate those of the SDGs, highlighting the importance of the continued need for biodiversity and nature for a sustainable urban future.

  • Ingrid Coetzee – moderator
  • Madame Fatimetou Abdel Malick president of the Nouakchott Region in Mauritania.
    She was the first speaker and gives a statement about a group led by women against desertification. She gave an inspiring story of how the country came together, local and regional governments. 
  • Dr. Birguy Lamizana, Programme Officer at UNEP. She emphasized “The success of the Great Green Wall must be based on the youth, because they are the future, and on women, because they are the guardians of the land.” 
  • Dr. Moctar Sacande –  International Project Coordinator. Forestry Division (NFO),  FAO’s International projects Coordinator for Action Against Desertification in support of the implementation of Africa’s Great Green Wall.
    He presented the action against desertification, how they tackled the issue, how big the issue is, how much work is needed, and who should benefit from it. He ends his presentation by saying “You have to contribute, women have to contribute, cities have to contribute, we are all in it to win it.”
The session ended with questions and answers and how to get involved with the Great Green Wall. And the speakers leave the attendees with one-sentence reflections like Ingrid said: “The Great Green Wall is also seen as the wall of hope.”


The Great Green Wall is a symbol of hope in the face of one of the biggest challenges of our time – desertification. Launched in 2007 by the African Union, this game-changing African-led initiative aims to restore Africa’s degraded landscapes and transform millions of lives in one of the world’s poorest regions, the Sahel. Once complete, the Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet – an 8,000 km natural wonder of the world stretching across the entire width of the continent.

The Great Green Wall is now being implemented in more than 20 countries across Africa and more than eight billion dollars have been mobilized and pledged for its support. The initiative brings together African countries and international partners, under the leadership of the African Union Commission and Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall.

Key Results (2020 data)
The Great Green Wall snakes the Sahel region from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East of Africa. Several achievements have been recorded in most of the GGW member states, with some countries being more successful than others. 

  • The 11 countries selected as intervention zones for the Great Green Wall are: Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan.
  • Since its launch in 2007, major progress has been made in restoring the fertility of Sahelian lands. 
  • While some countries started the implementation of the GGW activities as early as 2008, others joined as late as 2014, when the GGW declaration was ratified.
  • The total area of the GGW initiative extends to 156 Mha, with the largest intervention zones located in Niger, Mali, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

FLEUVE Project – The Local Environmental Coalition for a Green Union (2014–2018)

The Global Mechanism (GM) of the UNCCD implemented a flagship initiative under the Great Green Wall called FLEUVE. The project was financed by the European Commission in the amount of about seven million Euro and was implemented from 2014-19.

FLEUVE aimed at strengthening the capacities of local communities to help boost investments in land restoration and created employment opportunities or ‘green jobs. The project was driven by local people themselves to strengthen community resilience to land degradation, drought and climate variability.

Micro-investment projects were implemented under FLEUVE in 23 communities across five Sahel countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and Senegal. The project was complemented by regional-level activities on capacity building and the dissemination of good practices on sustainable land management and innovative financing.

The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD is also supporting the development of sustainable value chains, where it is working with the private sector who guarantee purchase of dryland products in the Sahel. This leads to the creation of land-based jobs for thousands of rural women in the Sahel.

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