Paris (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron wants to save a stalled environmental project in Africa.
“Over the course of 15 years, the Great Green Wall project has seen its ups and downs,” Macron said at an event at the “One Planet Summit” on Monday in Paris.
For this he also takes “our share of responsibility”, not enough money has been used and there is a lack of political commitment. But that should change now with billions in investment.
The project of the Green Wall is to plant thousands of kilometers of trees like a green ribbon in the Sahel region – from Dakar to Djibouti. This is to stop the spread of the Sahara and thus the desertification.
This is also intended to combat famine and drought in the region. However, the countries have made slow progress so far, only a few trees have been planted. The initiative was launched in the 2000s. The Sahel is a region of Africa particularly hard hit by climate change. This entails numerous conflicts, causing many people to flee the regions.
He has set himself a target of mobilizing at least one-third of the funds needed for this ambitious project by 2030, Macron said. “I am pleased to announce that we have achieved this and more.” Initially he did not mention a specific amount. Beforehand, it was said from Élysée circles that about ten billion euros should be collected for the initiative.
“As you know, France is committed to the security and stability of this region,” Macron continued. This certainty is not sustainable if the people in the region are not given a future. That is why jobs must also be created and it must be ensured that people in the region have sufficient food. “Population displacement, crises and (…) the pandemic have made terrorism even worse across the region.”
Former colonial power France is strongly represented in West Africa in action against Islamic militias; Mali is a focus. “Barkhane” includes up to 5100 soldiers. A number of armed groups are active in the states of the Sahel region – an area extending south of the Sahara from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. Some have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) or Al Qaeda terrorist groups.
Prince Charles also called on companies from around the world to invest at the Paris event and presented his “Terra Carta” project. The goal is to bring prosperity into harmony with nature, people and the planet for the next decade, said the British heir to the throne, who guested via video. With the initiative, the Prince of Wales aims to raise 7.3 billion pounds (approximately 8.1 billion euros) for green projects by 2022.
Companies such as Astrazeneca and HSBC, as well as BP and Heathrow Airport have announced their support. Only executives – from all areas and around the world – are able to drive change of the magnitude necessary for the transformation of the global economy, the 72-year-old said. The heir to the throne has been publicly committed to protecting the climate for decades.
The “One Planet Summit” was launched by France, the World Bank and the United Nations – so far there have been meetings in Paris 2017, New York 2018 and Nairobi 2019. The aim is to accelerate the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and to further invest to promote climate protection. The summit should have taken place in the summer in the southern French port city of Marseille, but was postponed due to Corona. Paris now sees the “One Planet Summit” as the prelude to several climate events taking place this year – especially the Climate Summit in Glasgow in November.
In the afternoon, other heads of state or government and top managers of international organizations have to speak. They include Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Prince Charles, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and EU Commission Chairman Ursula von der Leyen. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, they are mainly engaged via video. Biodiversity and protection of ecosystems are therefore on the agenda of the conference.