Matrice Verte - Decision Support Systems for the Great Green Wall
The Sahel faces a persistent problem of variability in rainfall, the major driver of vulnerability in the region. Populations there depend on healthy ecosystems to sustain their livelihoods but are among the poorest in Africa and the most vulnerable to climatic variability. In response, eleven countries of the Sahel have agreed to work together to address policy, investment and institutional barriers that exacerbate the effects of climate change and variability. Leaders of the eleven countries have committed to environmental and development transformation in the region under the rubric of the Great Green Wall (GGW). This vision is fully endorsed by African heads of state which, in turn, charged the NEPAD Agency to provide technical support (15th African Union Summit, Kampala, 2010).
Matrice Verte is premised on the notion that scientific and technical information, analysis and recommendations are needed to improve decision making and outcomes related to the GGW. Matrice Verte focuses on three discrete challenges, discrete technological tools to address each challenge and defined outputs in defined time periods. While initial work will be organized at country level (initially, in Ethiopia, Mali, Niger and Senegal), an important target will be the scientific and technical committees and panels already established (but under-capacitated) at country and regional level to advise policy makers across a range of issues and related decision steps, currently organized around landscape measurement and assessment; climate vulnerability assessment; and good practice dissemination and learning.
Matrice Verte will address three fundamental questions facing decision makers supporting and planning the GGW:
- What is actually happening on the ground, now (land cover, biomass) – using earth observations and remote sensing, based on GEF-supported assessment tools
- What is going to be on the ground in the future (land cover, biomass) – using climate impact assessment modeling, based on the most up to date IPCC-approved science
- What should be planted and managed given local realities and what people are willing or able to do – using best practices and learning dissemination, based on the latest ICT tools
Decision makers dealing with complex spatial problems often face multiple, conflicting objectives for a solution. To be acceptable, a solution must reconcile these conflicting goals. A variety of analytical techniques have been developed to resolve these problems. Consequently, decision makers have turned to geographic information systems, computer modeling and ICT techniques to enhance their decision making capabilities.
With regard to the GGW, three important categories of decision making have been identified –programming, project design/investment and project implementation/practice. There are others, but at this early stage, and given the disaggregated and under-capacitated scientific/technical and decision-making institutions and organizations at regional, national and ground levels. Matrice Verte offers an approach which focuses on i) three core challenges, ii) discrete technological tools to address each challenge and iii) high priority outputs in defined time periods for highest priority.
Information challenge: Landscape characterization and assessment; biomass and carbon stratification; project baselines; site selection; ongoing monitoring.
Technology: Web-enabled geographic information systems; optical and LIDAR remote sensing; image processing; geo-spatial content management; and MRV systems for biomass and carbon monitoring (already adapted for heterogeneous, rural landscapes in Africa under the Carbon Benefits Project (CBP), a WWF-supported mitigation initiative, GEF/UNEP funded).
Outputs: Continuous annual monitoring of the entire GGW zone; sample-based regular monitoring of trees in both woodlands and agriculture (in specific locations or projects); information concerning biomass and carbon stocks over time, as well as other biophysical parameters; and a web-based GIS interface for monitoring, information sharing, reporting, and verification with local access by GGW projects and partners.
2. Climate Impact and Resilience Modeling for Project Planning & Investment
Information challenge: Many of the same information challenges outlined in the context of programming, also occur in the context of project planning. Projections of future climate impacts on agricultural, biological, ecosystem, endemism, food, forest, livelihood and water systems are needed so as to be able to develop robust, effective climate change vulnerability assessments and adaptation strategies.
Technology: Climate impact data visualization that gives usable data and information on climate trends, climate change and impacts related to natural resource species, major crops, livestock and wildlife (already adapted for heterogeneous, rural landscapes in the Sahel under ELAN, a WWF-supported adaptation initiative, MacArthur Foundation funded).
Outputs: Analysis of climate impacts under temperature increases of two and three degrees, including the impact on all species identified in documentation prepared for the GGW, as well as major crop, tree and livestock species favored in the area; and analysis of changes in key climate variables, as well as specific climate change predictions for GGW projects.
3. Information Communication Technologies for Learning Dissemination and Best Practices Uptake
Information challenge: to ensure that the products of the above work and related research are available and used to make positive change in the management of ecosystems, farms and woodlands and in the livelihoods of populations in the Sahel, from research processes through to product and knowledge creation and in the methods of management, dissemination, communication and learning.
Technology: three elements: a) coordinated, if not integrated, audio-visual, computer, internet and telephone networks, systems, platforms and portals (already developed under the CBP, ELAN and MOABI, WWF-supported initiatives); b) documented lessons learned and good practice (adapted for heterogeneous, rural landscapes, ongoing by the Africa Forest Forum); and c) modern extension and advisory services as they have emerged in different countries and situations in Africa.
Outputs: assurance that the knowledge, information and data related to the purposes and operations of the GGW are well managed, accessible for analysis and decision making and are protected from the risk of loss and long term unavailability; and that decision makers, extension and advisory services have access to new approaches and the breadth of resources in public, private and civil society organizations and available through advanced information and communications technologies.
Although not part of the decision-support package or system outlined above, Matrice Verte can also draw on the application of a management information technology that captures and tracks analytic work, project investments (attributed and or otherwise related to the GGW), stakeholder activities and commitments, as well as input to a ‘reporting and verification system from the ground’ (promoting both transparency and empowerment). This system has been developed by WWF under the rubric of MOABI and is currently in use by the DRC in the management of its REDD + initiatives and projects.
WWF Matrice Verte Project Coordinator
MPO Senior Program Officer
MPO Program Representative
Africa Policy Coordinator
WWF West African Marine Ecoregion