Yesterday, the World Bank Global Environment Facility announced at a meeting of African leaders in Chad to devote 96 million Euros to the "Great Green Wall of the Sahara" initiative: a barrier of trees 7000 kilometer long and 15 kilometer wide which will be planted across 11 African countries, from Senegal to Djibouti. This Green Wall will have to slow down wind erosion and enhance rainwater infiltration. The idea for this Wall emerged five years ago. In July 2005, President Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, proposed to the Fifth Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU), an initiative for the establishment of a "Green Wall for the Sahara". At the time, the Heads of State requested the African Union Commission (AUC) to facilitate its formulation and implementation. However, because of lackof funds implementation had not yet begun.
The World Bank, an institution that aspires to achieve global sustainable development, now wants to position itself as an environmental bank. This role does not seem like a natural fit and is inconsistent with the implementation of its policies. So, for example, its climate investment funds' criteria are not ambitious enough to realise a transition to (real) renewable energy.
Take yourself on a trip back in time. Go to Mar del Plata, Argentina, in the year 1977. A high profile international conference is taking place under the auspices of the United Nations, full of hope and burdened with lofty aims. In that year, only 20% of the world's rural population in developing countries had access to safe drinking water.