The Great Green Wall of Africa, or Initiative for the Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel, is a project that began in 2007. The plan consists of the cultivation of 8,000 km of trees in Africa, with the vital purpose of being a source of food and providing a better future for the millions of Africans who suffer the consequences of climate change.
The seed of this idea arose in 1952, where it was proposed to create a green “barrier” to prevent the advance of the desert . This living structure begins in the Sahel region, on the southern border of the Sahara desert, one of the poorest and most arid places on the planet. The Sahel is among the areas that suffer the most from the devastating impact of the effects of global warming a>, affecting millions of inhabitants with hunger, drought, the dispute over natural resources and massive migration to Europe to flee from misery.
Currently, the Great Green Wall has expanded and involves more than 20 countries. Thanks to it, it is helping to restore the productivity of forests and promoting the development of self-sustaining communities thanks to to agroforestry and economic activities.
The UN highlights the importance of the positive impact of the Green Wall at a global level, since it is intended to avoid that, during the next decade, 50 million people are forced to move due to desertification, depletion of natural resources and climate change.
On the other hand, there is no shortage of criticism of this project< /a>. One of the most prominent focuses on the fact that deserts are healthy and natural ecosystems, and that they should not be treated as if they were a “disease”. Likewise, the idea of a vegetative barrier could be counterproductive for the development objectives, since it emphasizes the perimeter of the zone instead of the place of the problem itself; To increase food security and support local communities, an alternative solution could focus on large areas of crops instead of narrow parts. Finally, criticism also refers to the difficulty of completing the Great Green Wall within the agreed deadlines (the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development establishes the year 2030 as the completion date of the project).
It is true that sustainable development cannot be focused on or depend on a single idea or solution. Along with reforestation, it is necessary to invest in and emphasize other methods of conservation and mitigation-adaptation to climate change, such as ecosystem restoration. Despite this, the Great Green Wall may be relevant not only for the positive effects it may have on the climate, terrestrial ecosystems and local populations, but also for constituting a symbol of the fight against climate change< /strong>, which can attract other similar future projects that help mitigate the negative effects of unsustainable economic growth.
Julen González Redín
PhD in Sustainable Development