“The EU as a Soft Power Superpower: Why a Green Marshall Plan for the Sahel Is Imperative”, Friso Stevens and Dorith Kool (Egmont, Belgium)

This research paper argues that the European Union should roll out a European Green Marshall Plan for ecosystem restoration and local governance in the Sahel region, located between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian savanna to the south. Ecological degradation and related climate change put mounting pressure on the region. In combination with cyclical resource-related conflicts and the presence of terrorist and insurgent groups, this has created an increasingly volatile situation. European security and stability are indirectly at stake. The EU’s ‘Old War’ footing and support for illegitimate, corrupt, and autocratic governments to ‘mow the lawn’ of terrorists and insurgents fails to address and often undermines fundamental human security needs in the region. The authors propose a remodelling of EU foreign and security policy to shift focus from current securitization efforts towards facilitating a green, bottom-up transition that empowers local communities’ ecological stewardship by using their existing knowledge, skills, and dynamics, and Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). Failure to make these changes toward a human security-centred approach means the EU’s current security and climate-related policies risk further undermining rather than contributing to regional security.

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