Africa's Sahel region pledges to restore 100 million hectares of land
The UNCCD COP 14 meeting in New Delhi. /IISD/ENB Photo

The UNCCD COP 14 meeting in New Delhi. /IISD/ENB Photo

Africa's Great Green Wall initiative, aimed at preventing land degradation in the violence-torn Sahel region, made an ambitious pledged to restore 100 million hectares of land. 

The restoration work is likely to create more than 10 million green jobs by 2030. The decision was taken during a high-level meeting at 14th Conference of Parties (COP-14) of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) underway in New Delhi. 

Amina Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, and Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, co-chaired the meeting on Wednesday. 

The target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land will transform the lives of those living on the frontlines of climate change and desertification. The initiative will also promote clean energy, powering communities along the Wall, UNCCD said in a press statement. 

Endorsed by the African Union in 2007, the Great Green Wall initiative binds together more than 20 African countries to work towards sustainable land management in collaboration with international organizations and research institutes. 

One of the most degraded areas in the world, the Sahel region stretches over 3,860 kilometers and is mostly barren with meager vegetation. The region, located south of the Sahara Desert, crosses through the entire breadth of the African continent and is also a hotbed of ethno-religious violence. 

Delegates attending the meeting also raised concerns that nearly 65 percent of the land on the African continent is still degraded. Such a high level of soil degradation is adversely affecting agriculture and related livelihood activities, triggering food insecurity and violence in the region.

"Economic development via a transformative ecological corridor that supports millions of lives in the region," delegates added. 

The governments made a joint commitment to mobilize technical and financial resources, from both the public and private sectors. 

"Private sector investment is vital in creating green jobs and wealth along the Wall and ultimately achieving the 2030 vision," they said.