Taken in Bonn, in 2023 at the UNCCD headquarters, at the GGW Accelerator Office location. Photo Credit: Pape Camara, UNCCD
Gille at the Great Green Wall Accelerator Office at UNCCD in Bonn.

Addressing climate change and desertification in the Sahel region

In 2021, Gilles Amadou Ouedraogo assumed the role of Programme Management Officer for the Great Green Wall initiative at the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). He transitioned from a UN Volunteer assignment with the Sahel programme of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). His experience with UNDP prepared him well, enabling Gille to navigate challenges and embrace opportunities within the Great Green Wall initiative.

The Great Green Wall, an African-led initiative, aims to restore Africa's degraded landscapes and transform millions of lives in one of the world's most vulnerable regions, the Sahel. The initiative aligns perfectly with the broader sustainable development goals of the United Nations. It addresses 15 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including challenges such as climate change, desertification, drought, famine, conflict and migration.  

Gilles Amadou’s role initially involved enhancing the data management structure for the initiative. The aim was to better track progress and funding, which in turn would improve accountability and visibility.

Over time, his role expanded to managing a project aimed at bolstering the Pan African Agency and national agencies in their mission to efficiently monitor regional and country-specific Great Green Wall projects implemented by a slew of technical and financial partners.

The Great Green Wall initiative focuses on the Sahel region of Africa, which I was fortunate to learn about through my UNV experience. As a Monitoring & Reporting Specialist with the UNDP Sahel Programme, I had already supported initiatives aimed at strengthening the resilience of rural populations. --Gille Amadou Ouedrago, Programme Management Officer for the Great Green Wall initiative with UNCCD

January 2023, Bamako, Mali. Gilles Amadou Ouedraogo in red  addressing the audience during the 2nd Annual GGW Residential Seminar Organized by the Pan African Agency for the GGW. Photo Credit: Tounkara, ICRAF.
Gilles Amadou Ouedraogo (left) addressing the audience during the 2nd Annual Great Green Wall Residential Seminar organized by the Pan African Agency in Bamako, Mali, January. ©Tounkara/ICRAF, 2023

Through large-scale investments in land-based adaptation and climate-resilient development, the Great Green Wall initiative has the unique potential to continue creating more resilient landscapes across the Sahel. This goes hand-in-hand with the creation of land-based green jobs and development of new income sources and sustainable livelihoods for rural communities. --Gilles Amadou Ouedraogo

For those considering volunteering with the United Nations, particularly in the field of environmental sustainability and conservation, Gilles’s advice is straightforward: "Don’t hesitate to volunteer due to age or experience. The experiences and lessons each person can contribute to a team dynamic are invaluable. Open yourself to absorbing new knowledge and contributing what knowledge you have accumulated over the years."