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.
For the complete article, please see Council on Foreign Relations.
With global climate action stagnating, sustained community-driven initiatives can fill the governance gap and also help mitigate climate-related security risks in South Asia.
The longstanding dispute over water rights among Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia escalated in 2011 when Ethiopia began construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), in the absence of any agreement with downstream Egypt. The GERD dispute offers an alarming insight into just how dangerous future transboundary water disputes may become, particularly in the context of a changing climate.
Though focused on climate change, National Adaptation Plans offer important assessments of the risks a country faces and can be valuable in devising comprehensive pandemic response strategies.
Women in the region suffer disproportionately from climate impacts, but they also play an essential role in addressing climate change. With the right policy responses, it is possible to reduce security risks and empower women to better address the challenges they face.