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The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) has been conceived as a model to help in the fight against desertification, ensure ecosystem restoration and development of arid and semi-arid zones. The creation in June 2010 of the Pan African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW) and the recommendations of The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in June 2010 provide an enabling environment for the development of a global partnership in support of the initiative.
UNEP-WCMC was commissioned to coordinate the preparation, drafting and finalization of UNEP’s programme document and approach in support of the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI).
To better define UNEP’s potential areas of contribution to the initiative, a study on UNEP’s comparative advantage was developed based on an analysis of ongoing and past programming, lessons learned, and current flagship programmes.Three rapid evaluations were undertaken with the support of global and regional partners to provide recommendations for UNEP engagement and for GGW success: Ecosystem Services and Drivers for Changes in the context of the GGW, Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE); Transboundary Natural Resource Management and Governance in GGW countries, Comité Inter-Etate pour la Lutte contre la Sécheresse au Sahel (CILSS); and Socio-economic situation in GGW countries and capacity to adapt to climate change, Environment and Development Action in the Third World (ENDA).
On 5-7 March 2012, a regional meeting on the implementation of the Great Green Wall Initiative co-organised by the PAGGW and UNEP in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, provided the opportunity to engage in consultations with regional stakeholders to identify and agree on UNEP’s role in support of the Great Green Wall Initiative.
With the guidance of regional partners, stakeholders and a UNEP inter-departmental task team, the project team drafted a 12-year programmatic proposal. The document includes a subset of priority activities for a 3-year inception phase (2012-2015) aiming at establishing an enabling environment to enhance ecosystem management and environmental governance in the Great Green Wall region. It suggests expected outcomes and activities to be developed under six areas of focus:
• Supporting GGW countries in their transition towards the Green Economy
• Building capacity for strengthening science and assessment within the GGW context
• Strengthening environmental governance and Rio Convention synergies in GGW countries
• Mainstreaming of poverty-environment and poverty-drylands issues into GGW development efforts
• Providing technical and scientific support for Ecosystem based Adaptation and ecosystem resilience approaches with the GGW
• Enabling Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) across the GGW Ecological Main Structure
In line with its mandate and with its capacity, the majority of UNEP’s contribution to the GGWSSI would be focused on the transboundary or regional level, although some national-level support to countries are envisaged in demonstrating and piloting innovative local approaches. Support to the regional level would focus on ensuring that the GGWSSI is more than a simple collection of national strategies, but that links and synergies are built among GGWSSI countries, working with national institutions and GGW focal points as well as regional partners and organisations.
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