Challenges to the security and development of the Sahel are immense [fr]
Peace and security in Africa: Challenges in the Sahel region - Statement by Mr Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 26 May 2016
I too would like to thank the Egyptian presidency and Spain for having taken this initiative to convene this important and extremely timely debate. I also thank all the briefers for the excellent quality of their statements — Mr. Ibn Chambas, Mr. Laborde, Ms. Barbut and Ms. Ibrahim. The views that they shared with us are very helpful in guiding our work.
To a great extend I share what has already been said. I will limit my statement to three main ideas.
First, the challenges to the security and development of the Sahel are immense. The effects of climate change have particularly affected the region, and that at a time of strong demographic growth, especially as between 2015 and 2050 the population will increase from 85 million to more than 200 million inhabitants. That could be an asset, or it could be a major liability if the growth of the population is not accompanied by sufficient development, because that could produce tragedies — forced migration, political instability, insecurity and the temptation of extremism. The Sahel today therefore is at a crossroad, but there is no foregone conclusion if the Sahel countries and their partners come together to meet those challenges. Already, we see in Mali how the mobilization of the international community can bear fruit in a situation that is much better today than in 2012.My second thought concerns the strategy to adopt to meet the numerous challenges in the Sahel. Our approach can be effective only if it integrates that complexity. That means meeting the challenges in different areas. Here it is crucial to underscore the link made here today among climate, security and development. In the Sahel, clearly there are many problems. There is food insecurity linked to soil and land degradation, which is made worse by population growth and climate warming. In that framework, all initiatives need to be encouraged. The United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel should be quickly implemented. We also welcome the streamlining of the prevention and crisis management plans in the framework of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel.
Furthermore, regional initiatives need to be promoted. The framework of the Group of Five Sahel (G-5 Sahel), as we have underscored on numerous occasions, today seems to be very pertinent in terms of meeting challenges. Here, I would like to mention the Great Green Wall for the Sahel and the Sahara Initiative and the sustainable development projects around Lake Chad. Over and beyond that, the work of the Economic Community of West African States and the Africa Union is also to be encouraged, as is the work of the European Union, which, as members are aware, is very committed to the Sahel.
Looking at a more global dimension, the universal integrated approach to development — which is that of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (resolution 70/1) and the Paris Agreement — establishes a deadline. Its implementation, especially in the Sahel and in other large areas of vulnerability on the planet, is the major issue facing our generation. But we can change the situation in the Sahel only if we move forward determinedly and collectively with all the relevant stakeholders — the States, the United Nations, international financial institutions, civil society and businesses.
All things considered — and this will be my last point — I can confirm France’s full support for the long term to meet those challenges of the Sahel. France has been involved in an unprecedented manner in terms of security to deal in the short term with the threat of terrorism and the instability that it engenders. Security in the Sahel region does not affect just the Sahel, because terrorism has also become globalized, as everyone is well aware. The French approach, with Operation Serval and then with Operation Barkhane, is based on a sustainable partnership with the armies of the Sahel with a view to making them more able to fight terrorism efficiently, in an autonomous manner and over the long term. I wish to renew, to our African and international partners, our full commitment to stand by their side in the fight against violent extremism.Above and beyond the essential security measures, President François Hollande confirmed — at the summit on 1 December 2015 with the African Heads of State on the margins of the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) — his commitment to mobilizing the donors and the entire international community to focus on Africa’s three major priorities: energy sources, the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative, and restoring Lake Chad. The French Agency for Development and the French Global Environment Facility finance or co-finance numerous development projects. President Hollande announced on that occasion that France will donate $6 billion towards African energy needs by 2020, $2 billion of which is earmarked for renewable energy.
Finally, President Hollande announced a significant increase in official development assistance — €4 billion more, starting in 2020 — which will increase our aid from €8 billion to €12 billion, demonstrating France’s exceptional commitment on behalf of the most poor and the most vulnerable.