Desertification: Costa in New Delhi pledges support to projets in Sahel

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NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 9 – “Walls, in the history of humanity, are tied to the negative image of division and separation. But not always. It is for this reason that Italy supports the ‘Great Green Wall‘ initiative, a single opera composed of multiple projects aimed at halting desertification and bringing back to life earth and territories,” the Italian Minister for the Environment Sergio Costa said on Facebook from New Delhi where he is participating at the Fourteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

A High Level Breakfast on the Great Green Wall

Today at a High-Level Breakfast meeting held in New Delhi, partners of the African-led ‘Great Green Wall Initiative’ agreed to develop a visionary roadmap, a decade after its launch, with bold targets to restore 100 million hectares of land and create 10 million green jobs by 2030 across the Sahel.

“The idea, which I am sharing with the many countries present at the Cop of the Convention on Desertification in India, is to bring nourishment to the places most severely hit by the desertification. I am thinking of the Sahel area, one of the poorest and most dramatically hit by global warming places on earth,” said Costa on Facebook. 

Projects aimed at recovering degraded territory in Sahel

“We need all countries to do their part. We – as some regions of Italy are hit by desertification- are making available planning abilities and technologies ‘made in Italy’, for the development of projects aimed at recovering 20.000 hectars of degraded territory in Sahel. This land will therefore be able to recover its fertility and cultivability, giving 300.000 people the opportunity to benefit from new sources of income and thereby giving them an alternative to abandoning their territory,” said the Minister: “Each country should give its contribution: the world can’t be changed alone, but if every one of us, if millions of people go in the same direction, we can really be efficient and finally change things.”

Co-chaired by H.E. Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General and H.E. Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, the breakfast event was facilitated by the UNCCD Secretariat, in collaboration with the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW), represented by H.E Marieme Bekaye, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Mauritania and President of the Council of Ministers – partners commended current progress by Great Green Wall member states, supported by the AU, PAGGW and international community.

Raising concerns that 65% of land on the African continent is still degraded, partners called for the initiative’s swift upscaling and acceleration, to further advance social cohesion, climate action (both adaptation and mitigation) and economic development via a transformative ecological corridor that supports millions of lives.

During the meeting, partners agreed that the roadmap would focus firmly on the Initiative’s contribution to 15 of the 17 SDGs. By 2030, the initiative aims to ensure:

  • Large-scale landscape restoration – with a target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land to transform the lives of those living on the frontline of climate change and desertification
  • Creation of 10 million green jobs including through sustainable value chains and connecting local producers to lucrative global markets
  • Promotion of clean energy, powering communities along the Wall to a brighter future and creating local economies that ensure land remains productive

Participants affirmed that in order to fulfil the ambitions of the Great Green Wall Initiative, and support the implementation of the roadmap, a more innovative approach and robust coordination mechanism are required for real transformation and resource mobilization, including to leverage the assets of the region and the opportunities offered by the youth and women as the main drivers of change.

A joint commitment was made to mobilize technical and financial resources, from the public and private sectors through win-win partnerships, recognizing that private sector investment is vital in creating green jobs and wealth along the Wall and ultimately achieving the 2030 vision. Participants exchanged views on a myriad of opportunities the region offers, with an emphasis on sustainable value chains, renewable energy and rural entrepreneurship, and stressed the importance of changing the narrative to underscore the Sahel as a “land of opportunities”. (@OnuItalia)