Photo by Ruth Maclean for the Guardian
Photo by FMNR

Chris Reij

Senior Fellow

World Resources Institute


Senior Fellow


World Resources Institute


Niger and Burkina Faso







What makes Chris Reij a Global Shaker?

It’s not possible to talk about efforts to combat desertification without mentioning Chris Reij, a sustainable land management specialist and a senior fellow of Washington’s World Resources Institute. He was honoured by the United Nations (UN) Convention to Combat Desertification as a Global Drylands Champion in 2013.

His flagship project, the “African Re-greening Initiatives”, supports farmers to develop productive farming systems in response to climate change, and to scale-up proven successes in other regions and countries. He is particularly concerned with long-term trends in agriculture and restoring degraded land in semi-arid regions.

The environmentalist has long believed that conventional replanting programmes will not work in desert belts, and farmers must be allowed to work on their own re-greening programmes.

Speaking to the Guardian, following a growing recognition of the success of re-greening programmes in Niger — one of several African countries to benefit from the growth of 200 million additional trees in recent decades — he said: “It’s literally a story of more people, more trees.

“The whole point is that the trees are not protected and managed by farmers for their environmental beauty, but because they are part of the agricultural production system.”

Tags: Drought, West Africa

Last updated: June 17, 2019