A transdisciplinary research framework to guide actions along the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative

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Deborah Goffner

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To meet the environmental and social challenges in the Sahel, the adoption of the Pan-African Great Green Wall (GGW) in 2007 was a step in the right direction. However, the success of the GGW depends on its capacity to gather, generate, integrate, and use knowledge from different sources, taking into account the complexity of socio-ecological systems (SES) along its path. Future Sahel, a French government-funded research program, brings together multidisciplinary scientists and GGW natural resource managers in Senegal, providing a unique opportunity to nudge the GGW along a positive trajectory. Herein, a research framework to guide GGW decision-making that integrates a social ecological systems perspective, multi-scale interactions, and ecosystem service delivery will be presented. To navigate towards “desirable” futures, decision makers must focus on optimizing and innovating actions for immediate implementation, while simultaneously creating a social and institutional context conducive for lasting change. In response to both short and long-term needs, two examples of Future Sahel research will be presented.  The first provides data to inform immediate on-the-ground restoration strategies (tree planting vs. natural regeneration) for contrasting SES along the GGW path. The second seeks to operationalize “resilience thinking”, reflecting on both actions and the social context in which actions are implemented. Toward this end, we will share our experience in piloting the “Wayfinder, a resilience guide for navigating towards sustainable futures” (https://wayfinder.earth/), in Senegal. Finally, our GGW research-natural resource management partnership is already being scaled-out to other GGW countries in hope of fast-tracking decision-making at the continental scale.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration