Great Green Wall provides ‘precious opportunity’, says Charles

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An initiative to plant 8,000 kilometres of trees across the width of Africa presents a “precious opportunity” in the fight against climate change, the Prince of Wales has said.

The Great Green Wall was devised in 2007 and a funding drive culminated in more than 19 billion dollars from a number of sources to plant more than 20 million trees across 11 countries, which is estimated to create up to 350,000 jobs.

Speaking at an event alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the Prince of Wales praised the initiative.

Prince Charles and Emmanuel Macron
Prince Charles and French President Emmanuel Macron (Paul Ellis/PA)

“Bearing in mind that there are some 700 million hectares of degraded land in Africa, the Great Green Wall initiative offers a precious opportunity to restore land, forest and biodiversity while also addressing the social, economic and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification,” he said.

“It can also offer a model for the vital role of sustainable supply chains.”

The Duke of Rothesay, as he is known while in Scotland, went on to say that the initiative could form part of a “just and sustainable transition”.

“However, we also know that this transition will cost trillions, not billions to resolve.”

Africa, the Prince said, was “uniquely placed” to help tackle climate change due to its “vibrant young population and unique and precious natural landscapes”.

“We have a precious opportunity to make sustainability the growth story of our time, yet the window for action is – as we all know – rapidly closing,” he said.

The Prince added: “Let us roll up our sleeves and start designing the creative solutions we need to secure the future for generations to come.

“Because working together, at the end of the day, I know we can succeed.”

The European Commission President, in her remarks at the event, said the bloc would treat the project as a “priority” in its upcoming seven-year budget, while Mr Bezos pledged 1 billion dollars through the Bezos Earth Fund for land restoration throughout Africa, including the Great Green Wall.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a geographer from Chad, urged the developed nations in the meeting to use the knowledge of nature and sustainability on the ground in Africa to develop the project.

“In my community, we live in harmony with nature, thanks to our traditional knowledge that has served in our advantage,” she said.

She added: “My grandmother, who didn’t go to school, is an expert in drought resistance varieties.

“She makes seasonal weather forecasts by observing the bird’s migration, the direction of the wind and even the behaviour of her own cattle.”

Ms Ibrahim concluded: “The Great Green Wall is therefore a great opportunity, but to succeed you need us – indigenous peoples – this woman, you need my grandmother, who does not speak French or English, who often cannot read or write but who has a PhD in environmental protection.

“We will not build the Great Green Wall in offices.”

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