By Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group (www.AfDB.org)
Your Excellency, President Emmanuel Macron, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, Your Excellency President Ghazouani of Mauritania, Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
I wish to thank President Macron for inviting me to this One Planet Summit’s Great Green Wall Investment Summit. In a complex world that requires strong leadership, you are providing amazing leadership on the climate agenda.
As we rebuild from the coronavirus and its impacts on our world, we must recalibrate growth. We must prioritize growth that protects the environment and biodiversity, and we must de-prioritize growth that compromises our global commons.
The Great Green Wall is part of Africa’s environmental defense system — a shield against the onslaughts of desertification and degradation. The future of the Sahel region of Africa depends on the Great Green Wall. Without the Great Green Wall, in the face of climate change and desertification, the Sahel may disappear.
The Great Green Wall is a wall worth building. A wall that brings people together, not one that pulls them apart. A wall that insulates, not one that isolates. A wall that protects our collective existence. A wall for the environment — a wall for the planet.
By building the Great Green Wall, we will secure the Sahel, reduce climate change, reduce migration and improve the lives of people.
The African Development Bank has launched a $20 billion Desert-to-Power program to build the largest solar zone in the world in the Sahel. This will provide electricity for 250 million people and help to protect the Great Green Wall. If there is no access to energy, the Great Green Wall will be no more than trees waiting to be turned into charcoal.
I applaud the efforts of President Macron and HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and of African Heads of State, on the Great Green Wall. You can be assured of my very strong support and that of the African Development Bank.
I am therefore pleased to announce that the African Development Bank will mobilize $6.5 billion in support of the Great Green Wall over the next five years.
Together we will secure the future of the Sahel.
Together we will save our continent.
Together we will save our planet.