Participants in the ongoing fourth Sahel West Africa Programme, in support of the Great Green Wall initiative, have called for the planting of more trees to restore degraded and barren lands. That will not only lead to food security, but help improve livelihoods, create jobs and build resilience to climate change, they posited.
The conference is being attended by officials of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); the Global Environmental Facility (GEF); the permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), Building Residence through innovation, Communication and Knowledge Service Project (BRICKS), European Space Agency (ESA), and the World Bank.
Other participants are from the ministries of Environment; Agriculture; Natural Resources; Science and the Environmental Protection Agencies of 12 African countries.
They are Ghana, Nigeria, Mauritania, Niger, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Senegal, Benin, Burkina Fast, Mali and Togo.
The conference is on the theme "Global predictive for the future of SAWAP” and will be used also to review environmental and social policies in the 12 countries.
The SAWAP project is a $1.1 billion World Bank- funded project in support of the Great Green Wall initiative in the 12 countries.
It is aimed at increasing the forest cover and the restoration of forest landscapes, preservation of biodiversity to reduce emissions with sustainable land management and other appropriate strategies.
The African Union Commission Coordinator of the Great Green Wall, Mr Elvis Paul Tangem, said restoring degraded land was in the right path to building resilience for ecosystems, lives of the people and economies.
The initiative, he said, had helped in the mainstreaming of degradation, drought and desertification projects.
Mr Tangem stated that the initiative needed large-scale financing, and that would require innovation and the pulling of domestic and diaspora funds.
"With the increasing confidence in the private sector on the continent with people such as Mo Ibrahim, Tony Elumelu and Aliko Dangote, it is critical to work with member countries to propose financing strategies, including tax breaks for public private partnerships in support of life initiatives.
"We have to move from our approach from requesting governments to act and to show them why they should,” Mr Tangem added.