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Our reflections on the COP27 summit

CEO Tom Skirrow, and Policy and Advocacy Advisor, Annie Schultz, share their reflections from the summit. 25th November 2022

COP 27 has now concluded - from a political and legislative perspective, many fear it failed to match the urgent mobilisation required to tackle the climate crisis. Yet there remain reasons for cautious optimism. 

CEO Tom Skirrow, and Policy and Advocacy Advisor, Annie Schultz, share their reflections:

This was billed the “implementation COP” and in many ways, the green shoots of implementation at scale are starting to take shape. 
Tree Aid went to COP 27 to support the growing coalition of climate actors focussed on the Sahel and African drylands more broadly. These regions are some of the worst-hit by the ongoing climate crisis, and therefore require focused and dedicated attention to resolving their specific issues. 

We must ensure that recent commitments pledged towards the completion of the Great Green Wall by 2030 are fulfilled. Quite rightly, The Great Green Wall received substantial attention throughout the two weeks in Sharm-El-Sheik, as recognition grows about the tangible solutions this initiative offers to both local and global climate concerns.

In recent years, there have been donor pledges towards delivering on this ambitious regional initiative, but so far that funding has not reached the communities and NGOs who are central to delivering those targets. It was heartening to hear Emmanuel Macron’s acknowledgement of this challenge first-hand at the Forest Climate Leadership Partnership launch event. He is amongst numerous world leaders who now recognise the potential of the Great Green Wall, but also the need for funding to prioritise community-based actions.

The following day, Ibrahim Thiaw, Secretary General of the UNCCD, spoke of the need to decentralise our efforts to deliver the Great Green Wall. It is critical to the initiative’s success that we do not bureaucratise the endeavour, attempting to restore all of its 100 million hectares of land through central governments alone. Local authorities and civil society organisations are vital to see this mosaic of actions delivered effectively and efficiently. 

Image: Tom and Annie speaking with Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of UNCCD

Tree Aid had the opportunity to meet many influential stakeholders who will determine where and how the Great Green Wall pledges will be disbursed, including country representatives from six of the original eleven GGW signatories, and the UNCCD GGW Accelerator team.

Image: Annie Schultz with Colonel Gora Diop, Great Green Wall Director of Senegal

We also met with private sector investment representatives who are interested in the region, taking the opportunity to highlight the same messages.

Image: Tom and Annie with Nigeria's Great Green Wall Director General and the African Union's Great Green Wall Coordinator


We’ll continue to work with these Great Green Wall key stakeholders to ensure that decentralisation and community engagement remain the focus in the coming months, so that action can start in earnest on the ground.