The Great Green Wall Initiative

What is the Great Green Wall?

The Great Green Wall is a symbol of hope in the face of one of the biggest challenges of our time – desertification. Launched in 2007 by the African Union, this game-changing African-led initiative aims to restore Africa’s degraded landscapes and transform millions of lives in one of the world’s poorest regions, the Sahel. Once complete, the Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet – an 8,000 km natural wonder of the world stretching across the entire width of the continent.

The Great Green Wall is now being implemented in more than 20 countries across Africa and more than 19 billion dollars have been mobilized and pledged for its support. The initiative brings together African countries and international partners, under the leadership of the African Union Commission and Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall.


By 2030, the ambition of the initiative is to restore 100 million ha of currently degraded land; sequester 250 million tons of carbon and create 10 million green jobs. This will support communities living along the Wall to:

  • Grow fertile land, one of humanity’s most precious natural assets
  • Grow economic opportunities for the world’s youngest population
  • Grow food security for the millions that go hungry every day
  • Grow climate resilience in a region where temperatures are rising faster than anywhere else on Earth
  • Grow a new world wonder spanning 8000 km across Africa

Key Results (2020 data)

The Great Green Wall snakes the Sahel region from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East of Africa.

Several achievements have been recorded in most of the GGW member states, with some countries being more successful than others. 

While some ccountries started the implementation of the GGW activities as early as 2008, others joined as late as 2014, when the GGW declaration was ratified.

The 11 countries selected as intervention zones for the Great Green Wall are: Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan.

GGW countries and results

The total area of the GGW initiative extends to 156 Mha, with the largest intervention zones located in Niger, Mali, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Since its launch in 2007, major progress has been made in restoring the fertility of Sahelian lands. Key examples of countries the GGW has carried out restoration activities include:

Ethiopia: 5.5 billion plants and seedlings produced for communities

The Ethiopian GGW activity area extends from Sudan in the north-west to Djibouti crossing the lowlands of the north-east of the country and covers 58 woredas (equivalent administrative units of districts) in three national regional states. The GGW activities were implemented in 58 woredas as part of the government's regular natural resource management program.

Some results in Ethiopia include: 

  • Over 5 billion plants and seeds produced.
  • 151 448 ha of reforested lands restored.
  • 792 711 ha of terraces restored
  • 240 ha of multipurpose gardens restored
  • 91 km of windbreaks
  • 236 551 ha of RNA
  • 96 774 ha of restored lands
  • 893 706 ha watershed management and forest
  • 62 759 people trained on food and energy security as well as maintenance of biodiversity
  • 218 405 jobs created
  • Total land area restored in Ethiopia – 1 million ha

Senegal: over 18 million trees planted and 800 000 ha of degraded land restored for communities

In Senegal, the length of the Great Green Wall route is 545 km for an area of 817 500 ha. The area of intervention is dominated by pastoral activity with extensive breeding and agricultural activity. The intervention zone covers three administrative regions (Tambacounda, Matam and Louga), five departments and 16 municipalities. 

The operational activities of the GGW have been carried out since 2008 and are mainly focused on the restoration and development of agroforestry initiatives. In Senegal, activities under the GGW intervention zone aims to create enabling conditions to restore the foundations of food and energy security and maintain biodiversity while creating green job

Other results in Senegal Include: 

  • 72 452 ha reforested area
  • 13 2050 km of windbreaks
  • 33 500 ha under ANR
  • 119 202 ha restored area
  • 2 120 people trained on food and energy security as well as maintenance of biodiversity
  • The population affected by this project is 322 221 inhabitants 
  • Total land area restored in Senegal – 850 000 ha

Nigeria: 8 million trees produced and planted and 1 396 jobs created

In Nigeria, the GGW Initiative is working to prevent or reverse the degradation of ecosystems while improving the living conditions of affected communities by enhancing the provision of ecosystem services. 

One of the key components of the Nigerian GGW program is the establishment of a 1,359 km contiguous shelterbelt from Kebbi State in northwest to Borno State in the northeast, serving as a windbreak.

Key results in Nigeria:

  • 7.6 million plants and seedlings produced
  • 2 801 ha of reforested lands
  • 373 ha of multipurpose gardens
  • 709 km windbreaks
  • 1 205 people trained on food and energy security as well as maintenance of biodiversity
  • 1 396 jobs created for the inhabitants

Sudan: 2 000 ha of land restored

The Great Green Wall Initiative in Sudan is located above latitude 14 degrees north, covering an area of 22 800 km2. A 1520 km stretch from west to east, and 15 km wide, as adopted by the African Union.

Sudan faces many environmental and political challenges, including desertification and land degradation, water pollution, deforestation, soil erosion and biodiversity loss, as well as governance and security issues.
Key results in Sudan:

  • 1.9 million plants and seedlings produced
  • 85 000 ha of restored lands
  • 2 500 ha of ANR
  • 1 716 beneficiaries trained on food and energy security as well as maintenance of biodiversity

Burkina Faso: 16 million trees produced and planted and 50 000 households improved

Through the GGW Initiative, Burkina Faso aims to increase its resilience to climate change and land restoration. Then emphasis is on activities that will minimize erosion and maintain soil fertility while increasing the sustainable use of non-timber products, as well as promote revenue-generating activities for women to ensure food security for households.

Key results in Burkina Faso:

  • 16.6 million of plants and seedlings produced
  • 20 383 ha of reforested lands
  • 250 ha of dune fixing
  • 29 602 ha of restored lands
  • 12 500 ha under ANR
  • Approximately 2 800 km of windbreaks
  • 26 869 people trained on food and energy security as well as maintenance of biodiversity
  • 45 383 jobs created
  • 6.5 million USD from IGA
  • 51 633 improved households
  • 19 913 kg of seeds produced (30 woody and 13 herbaceous species)

Mali: 135 000 plants produced and planted

In Mail, the GGW Initiative focuses on the development of agricultural, forestry and pastoral production systems, the improvement of basic socio-economic infrastructures and the creation of wealth through the development of income-generating activities that contribute to stable food security and the revival of sustainable economic growth.

In Mali, the intervention zone of the Great Green Wall covers all the localities between the isohyets 100 mm in the North and 500 mm in the South. The zone includes seven administrative regions (Kayes, Koulikoro, Segou, Mopti, Gao, Timbuktu, Menaka), 14 circles, 204 rural communities and 2,622 villages.

Key results:

  • 135 472 of plants and seedlings produced
  • 6 297 ha of reforested lands
  • 120 ha of restored lands
  • 41 ha of ANR
  • 18 ha of dune fixing
  • 1000 people were trained on food and energy security as well as maintenance of biodiversity

Eritrea: 129 million trees produced and planted

In Eritrea, the entire country is within the GGW intervention area and our GGW Program seeks to  promote soil and water conservation in catchment areas, farmland and along the rivers and streams. Community mobilization practices are key in the implementation of the GGW.

Key results in Eritrea:

  • 128.8 million tree seedlings planted
  • 52,930 ha of degraded area terraced and afforested
  • 394,380 ha enclosed/assisted natural regeneration
  • 65,231 degraded farmlands terraced

Niger: 146 million trees produced and planted

The intervention zone of the Great Green Wall in Niger is between the isohyets 100 mm in the North and 500 mm in the South and spreads over three climate zones from North to South: the Saharan zone, the Sahel-Saharan zone and the Sahelian zone. It covers the regions of Diffa, Zinder, Maradi, Tahoua, Agadez, Dosso, Tillaberi and Niamey and 228 municipalities.

Key results in Niger:

  • 146 million plants and seedlings produced
  • 364 615 ha of reforested lands
  • 363 928 ha of restored lands
  • 310 ha of ANR
  • 80 040 ha of dune fixing
  • 1 200 people trained on food and energy security as well as maintenance of biodiversity
  • 21 487 jobs created 

How is the UNCCD supporting the initiative?

FLEUVE Project – The Local Environmental Coalition for a Green Union (2014–2018)

The Global Mechanism (GM) of the UNCCD implemented a flagship initiative under the Great Green Wall called FLEUVE. The project was financed by the European Commission in the amount of about seven million Euro and was implemented from 2014-19.

FLEUVE aimed at strengthening the capacities of local communities to help boost investments in land restoration and created employment opportunities or ‘green jobs. The project was driven by local people themselves to strengthen community resilience to land degradation, drought and climate variability.

Micro-investment projects were implemented under FLEUVE in 23 communities across five Sahel countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and Senegal. The project was complemented by regional-level activities on capacity building and the dissemination of good practices on sustainable land management and innovative financing.

The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD is also supporting the development of sustainable value chains, where it is working with the private sector who guarantee purchase of dryland products in the Sahel. This leads to the creation of land-based jobs for thousands of rural women in the Sahel.

Irish Government

The Global Mechanism is simultaneously implementing a EUR 1.2 million grant from the Irish Government in support of the Great Green Wall.

This work is based on two pillars:

  • The elaboration of a “State of the Great Green Wall” Landmark Report, which will provide a big picture overview and authoritative analysis to assess the state of the Great Green Wall, a decade after it was launched
  • Development of a portfolio of transformative projects along the Great Green Wall for future donor funding

Public Awareness Campaign

The UNCCD has launched a public awareness campaign on the Great Green Wall, called "Growing a World Wonder." The campaign aims to boost global awareness of the initiative in public spheres, policy debates, as well as media and cultural sectors with a clear view towards inspiring long-term public and private investment in the initiative.

The campaign aims to inspire a global popular movement to deliver this urgent African-led dream by 2030. It centers on the core narrative that the Great Green Wall is an urgent symbol of hope in the face of the greatest challenges faced by mankind this century from climate change to food security, migration and resource-driven conflict. It is a compelling example of man and nature working together to create a unique legacy – a new world wonder for the next generation.

The campaign has already reached millions of people through mass media outreach, virtual reality, high-level events and civil society involvement. Among the future highlights is the release of the Great Green Wall documentary produced in collaboration with an Oscar nominated filmmaker Fernando Meirelles and Malian singer Inna Modja.