On 12 September 2020, the 17th United Nations International Day for South-South Cooperation, Dr. Linxiu Zhang, the Director of the United Nations Environment Programme- International Ecosystem Management Partnership (UNEP-IEMP), gave an exclusive interview to introduce works completed by China and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) under the framework of South-South cooperation, including ecosystem restoration and livelihood improvement projects carried out under the Great Green Wall project in Africa, the cooperation projects between various departments of China and UNEP, and the community ecological adaptation and restoration project implemented by UNEP-IEMP. The interview was feathered in an article titled "China-UNEP partnership promotes South-South Cooperation in Africa" on the official UNEP website.
As the first international center in developing countries jointly established by UNEP and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), UNEP-IEMP has been committed to promoting and serving South-South cooperation since its inception. Centering on the Flagship Programme on " Climate, Ecosystems and Livelihoods " (CEL) of UNEP, the center has led and coordinated a series of South-South cooperation projects while taking advantage of the international platform of UNEP and the rich scientific resources of CAS.
The center has actively participated in the South-South cooperation between China and UNEP by sharing Chinese experience, bridging the cooperation between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and African countries (departments), coordinating the long-term stable cooperation between UNEP and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China and the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC), and undertaking the management task of South-South cooperation projects of UNEP. The above work has effectively promoted the implementation of the Green Great Wall plan in Africa, the realization of the goal of land restoration in Africa, the restoration and protection of ecosystems in the Sahara region, and the capacity building of talents in African countries.
In terms of improving the livelihood of residents in ecologically and environmentally vulnerable areas, especially the poor, the center has made full use of its rich scientific experience in community projects in the economic, social, and cultural fields, and has successfully practiced the adaptation program of local pastoral community to the arid environment in communities in Ethiopia.
As the largest ecological restoration project in the world, the Great Green Wall of Africa plans to plant green belts across the African continent along the Sahel region on the southern edge of the Sub-Sahara Desert to tackle land degradation, climate change, poverty, employment, migration and other socio-economic and environmental issues. This initiative is an African Union-led movement of epic proportions initiated in 2007 to green the entire width of Africa, a very dry region extending from Senegal to Djibouti.
Under the Climate, Ecosystems and Livelihoods programme there are four major UNEP-IEMP projects currently being implemented in the Sahel region and part-funded by the Chinese Government. These are: a UNEP-Global Environment Facility (GEF) project titled Enhancing Capacity, Knowledge and Technology Support to Build Climate Resilience of Vulnerable Developing Countries (2013-2020); the UNEP-Ministry of Science and Technology project titled Joint Research on Practical Technology to Combat Desertification for African Priority Countries of the Great Green Wall (2019-2022); the UNEP-National Natural Science Foundation of China(NSFC) project titled Formation Mechanism and Control Regimes of Desertification in Mauritania (2019-2023); and the UNEP-NSFC project Driving Mechanisms of Land Use and Land Cover Change in the Sahel: Impacts and Responses (2017-2021).
At the end of the interview, Director Zhang introduced the future plan and vision of South-South cooperation between China and UNEP. UNEP-IEMP will continue to play the role as an international platform and to boost science support for policy. We also aim to promote South-South cooperation in experience sharing and scientific decision-making, and to contribute to achieving a land degradation-neutral world by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
To read the full UNEP interview, click here.