An acacia sapling being planted in Yangambi, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Axel Fassio, CIFOR

AFR100 initiative gets a boost as USD 2 billion funding goal before next COP set

This investment could restore 20 million hectares of land by 2026, bringing benefits worth USD 135 billion to 40 million people

As COP26 negotiations are underway, African ministers have challenged funders to provide USD 2 billion toward the AFR100 initiative by the next COP, while the first 20 restoration groups to receive funding from AFR100 have been announced. Soon afterwards Jeff Bezos, the found of Amazon, reportedly pledged USD 2 billion for land restoration in Africa through the Bezos Earth Fund.

Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Environment for Rwanda, Nancy Tembo, Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources for Malawi, and Mohammad Abubakar, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for Nigeria issued the funding challenge last Tuesday at the global climate conference taking place in Glasgow.

Funding groups, including the African Development Bank, German government, Bezos Earth Fund and Global Environment Facility responded by announcing their plan to invest in land restoration by 2026 and calling on other groups to contribute to this investment goal.

Bezos in Glasgow described his trip to space in July as an eye-opener on the fragility of life on Earth: “I was told that seeing the Earth from space changes the lens from which you view the world but I was not prepared for just how much that would be true,” he said. In total, the Bezos Earth Fund plans to invest USD 10 billion to fight climate change. 

“Africa is home to the world’s greatest restoration opportunity, with 700 million hectares of degraded land that can be restored. Africa is the continent most dependent on the land for livelihoods, and most vulnerable to climate change. Africa must therefore lead the way,” said Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD). “We warmly welcome partnership with ambitious funders like the Bezos Earth Fund.”

Although most African countries have historically contributed little to climate change, they are among the most affected. Climate change is already causing weather disasters on the continent, such as recurrent flooding in South Sudan and drought in Madagascar. The Sahel region is continuing to become desert, and local communities could stand to lose USD 4.6 trillion from cereal crop losses alone by 2030. 

In a press release, AFR100 stated that the first USD 2 billion investment in local African organizations, businesses and government-led projects could later initiate an investment of USD 15 billion, which could spark the restoration of 20 million hectares of land by 2026. This in turn could generate USD 135 billion in benefits to around 40 million people.

“Local communities own and manage nearly 70 percent of Africa’s land. That is why a future where rural Africa’s landscapes are fully restored is only possible if we believe in and fund the work of thousands of community groups and leaders, especially young people, women and entrepreneurs,” said Wanjira Mathai, vice president and regional director for Africa at the World Resources Institute (WRI) and a Friend of COP26.

Growing afrormosia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Axel Fassio, CIFOR
Growing afrormosia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Axel Fassio, CIFOR

The first funding winners

Meanwhile, the first 20 African restoration-focused organizations and businesses have been selected for AFR100 funding, the first concrete investment in the second phase of the AFR100 initiative. Each will receive USD 50,000-500,000 in the form of loans or grants. Eighty more organizations will be invited to the cohort on a rolling basis.

Funders including Bezos Earth Fund, One Tree Planted, Good Energies Foundation and DOEN Foundation have announced their investment in these restoration groups. Other partners will also independently monitor each project using satellite monitoring and field verification techniques with support from the Land & Carbon Lab initiative of the World Resources Institute.

These are the first awardees:

The AFR100 initiative brings together 31 African governments and other partners to restore 100 million hectares of land by 2030 to promote food security, climate change resilience and rural prosperity. It was launched in 2015 at the Global Landscapes Forum’s event that ran alongside the COP21 negotiations taking place in Paris. 



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