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Gilbert Houngbo, President of IFAD, COP26 Great Green Wall Event

Promoting Transformational Change to accelerate the implementation of the Great Green Wall initiative

Location: Glasgow, UK

08 November 2021

IFAD participated in the Ministerial Summit of Sept 2020, where  we heard about the progress of the GGW Initiative, as well as the challenges countries are facing.

IFAD has always been very active in supporting countries in the Sahel, and we concur with the conclusions and recommendations of UNCCD and the Great Green Wall Agency.

In the Sahel, 80 per cent of the population lives in extreme poverty, on less than $1.90 a day. Most work in agriculture, toiling in temperatures that are rising one and a half times faster than the global rate due to climate change. The consequences are dire. More than 11 million people living in the Sahel face the threat of famine and 40% of children under the age of five are stunted. Furthermore, economic growth remains insufficient to provide the education, jobs and public services needed to improve the daily lives of all Sahelians.

Most rural people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Small-scale farmers provide up to 80 per cent of food production in sub-Saharan Africa. But they lack resources, are highly dependent on rainfall, and are extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts. 

Rural transformation remains a key driver to reduce poverty, improve food and nutrition security, and increase resilience to shocks like COVID-19, and to ensure that no one is left behind.

Fragile situations complicate the eradication of poverty and hunger and create new vulnerabilities. Violent conflict has tripled since 2010 and is contributing to the largest forced displacement crisis ever recorded, with 31 people newly displaced each minute.

The pandemic has had immediate and tragic effects in terms of sickness and loss of life. It is also leading to economic slowdowns, which in turn are exacerbating debt distress.

Low-income countries were already at high risk, and debt distress is on the rise as a result of the challenges of responding to COVID-19 and lack of access to international capital markets.  

We can, and we must respond to these challenges.

For IFAD, the Sahel has always been a key region. As of today, IFAD has a total investment portfolio of US$2.8 billion in the 11 countries of the Great Green Wall. Of that US$1.3 billion is IFAD investment.  About half a billion (US$470million) is contributing to the objectives of the GGW Initiative.

During the meeting of September 2020, IFAD heard the request of GGW countries to international partners, in particular the IFIs and the GCF, to enhance their support in order to accelerate the implementation of the GGW initiative.

We can report that since September 2020, quite a lot has been achieved by IFAD, which will contribute to the objectives of the GGW.

First, to enable small-scale farmers to build their resilience to climate change, IFAD is:

  • Implementing the Africa Integrated Climate Risk Management Programme, approved by the GCF in March 2021 with a grant received from the GCF in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal. The programme will build the adaptive capacities of small-scale farmers and rural communities. Examples of priorities include making insurance available for small-scale farmers and strengthening climate weather information services.
  • We are also working on the “Inclusive Green Financing for Climate Resilient and Low Emission Smallholder Agriculture” (IGREENFIN) programme, also in collaboration with GCF. IGREENFIN will remove barriers that prevent small-scale farmers from benefiting from financial and non-financial services, and provide the information they need to build their resilience to climatic threats.
  • A first IGREENFIN project was already approved for Niger with US$10million from GCF, while a new phase covering Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal (in addition to several non-GGW countries) is under review by the GCF. The next phase of IGREENFIN, which covers the 7 other GGW countries (Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Nigeria and Sudan) is advancing well and will soon be submitted to GCF for review.
  • IFAD and the GCF are jointly developing an umbrella programme aimed at increasing the overall impact of the GCF projects and programmes on the GGW countries. This umbrella programme has been designed in close collaboration with the GGW Accelerator led by the UNCCD and the GGW Agency, as well as with the GEF and all GGW countries, to ensure alignment and consistency, and avoid fragmentation of support.

IFAD is also working with our Rome-based colleagues on a joint action plan for emergency and rural development in the Sahel (the SD3C):

The project is known as the Regional Joint Programme Sahel in Response to the Challenges of COVID-19, Conflict and Climate Change (SD3C). It will benefit the G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) and the Republic of Senegal.  In February 2021, the US$180.4 million Regional Joint Programme was approved by IFAD’s Executive Board.

The Joint Programme will revitalize economic activities and food systems in the Sahel. It will be implemented with FAO and WFP, as well as the G5 Sahel and the Green Climate Fund.

Finally, to bridge the financing gap required to transform food systems, we are working with Public Development Banks.

IFAD, with our partners at Agence Française de Développement and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti recently launched a ‘Coalition of Action for Inclusive and Sustainable Food System Finance’ to leverage the role of PDBs in financing food systems transformation. Building on this momentum, during the recent Finance in Common Summit in Rome we convened a meeting with the PDBs to advance this shared agenda and inaugurate a platform for collaboration and sharing successful and innovative practices.

All these new initiatives will be mostly focused on climate adaptation activities, and supporting nature-based solutions in the Sahel, to boost agricultural productivity, income and diversify livelihoods. All our investments and projects are aiming at increasing national and local capacities, of institutions, individuals, associations, cooperatives and private companies, as well as youth and women, to address the barriers listed previously, and collectively achieved the GGW objectives.

They will contribute to the objectives of the GGW to restore 100 million hectares of degraded lands, sequester 250 million tons of carbon and create 10 million jobs in rural areas by 2030.

 

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