In February 2011, an international summit in Bonn, Germany officially approved the building of a pan-African Great Green Wall (GGW) in support of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The GGW initiative plans to strategically plant swaths of trees roughly nine miles wide and over four thousand miles long. The central idea is for this belt of forest to serve as a barrier against desert winds and thus revitalize soil to protect against land degradation. It will stretch across Africa, passing through eleven countries—namely, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan. They have all enacted, or plan to enact, the first stages of the program.
The GGW initiative, originally envisioned by African leaders in the 1980s and 1990s, is a global response to the encroachment of the Sahara desert into the savannas and farmlands of sub-Saharan Africa. Desertification, which now affects 40 percent of Africa, has been further exacerbated by climate change in recent decades. Many of the continent’s most vulnerable communities living in threatened areas rely on healthy ecosystems to support livelihoods dependent on agriculture, livestock, and fisheries. They now find their livelihoods endangered. The World Food Program has warned that some ten million people risk starvation due to desertification in West Africa’s Sahel alone. Such problems are further compounded by poorly managed land and water resources.
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The best resource for all of our 21st Century Diplomacy: Foreign Policy Is Climate Policy content is the official website, hosted by the Wilson Center and adelphi. But the ECC editors are also collecting the topics here for eager readers.
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