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Burkina Faso (274 200 Km2) is a landlocked country in West Africa, bordered by Mali to the north and west, Niger to the northeast, Benin to the southeast, and Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo to the south. French is the official language, although it is not widely spoken. Instead, the population favours traditional languages like Moore, the language of the Mossi whom constitute the major ethnolinguistic group [1].

Its topography is plateau predominant with a savannah type geography, that is grassy in the north and gradually gives way to sparse forests in the southern region.  Burkina Faso experiences high temperatures and variable rainfall. Three climate zones split the country from north to south: the Sahelian zone in the north with rainfall less than 600 millimeters per year (mm/year), the Sudano-Sahelian region on a savanna plateau (Mossi Plateau) with rainfall from 600-900 mm/year and slightly cooler temperatures, and the southern more humid Sudanian zone with rainfall averages between 900-1200 mm/year [2].Agricultural land is nearly 45% of the total land area [3].

Important National Context

In 2022, the population of Burkina Faso is estimated at 21.85 million with a constant annual growth rate of 2.9% since 2010 [4]. Over the past 20 years, the population has doubled and could reach 43.4 million by 2050 [4].  Burkina Faso’s population grew 2.86% from 2019 to 2020, adding about 582,000 people to the population. Although the country has negative net migration, the high fertility rate of 5.23 births per woman allows the country’s population to continue growing [4]. Almost half of the population is under 15 years old and the median age of the population is 17.6 years. While contraceptive education has increased in Burkina Faso, usage is still very low [4].

The urban population in 2020 amounts to 30.6% [5], which is lower than the 48.3% urbanization rate observed globally in West Africa [6].  However, with a rapid urban growth rate of 5.2% per year, 40% of the population will be living in urban areas by 2030, in particular in informal settlements [7]

Using the World Bank's international poverty line of $1.90 in purchasing power parity (PPP) per day, 43.7% of Burkina Faso’s population is considered poor according to the 2016 poverty survey [8]. Nonetheless, Burkina Faso is striving to achieve middle-income status by 2030. Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has risen steadily over the past decade to $1,720.1 in 2016, according to the World Bank, resulting from consistently strong economic growth that peaked at over 8% in 2010. After slowing to 4 percent annually in 2014, the economy is expected to return to an annual growth rate of more than 6% in the coming years [9]

The country's economy is based mainly on agriculture (34% of GDP, including forestry, hunting and fishing) and the private (25%) and public (17%) service sectors. In strategic terms, the mining sector is an important issue; it now accounts for 15% of GDP and is the country's leading export product and an important source of tax revenue (between 12% and 20%). Cotton production is the second main source of foreign exchange. The country's main employer is agriculture, providing 70 to 80% of total employment [10].

In 2012, Burkina Faso adopted a National Policy for Scientific and Technical Research, the strategic objectives of which are to develop research & development (R&D) and the application and commercialization of research results. The policy also makes provisions for strengthening the ministry’s strategic and operational capacities. One of the key priorities is to improve food security and self-sufficiency by boosting capacity in agricultural and environmental sciences. The creation of a center of excellence at the International Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering in Ouagadougou within the World Bank project provides essential funding for capacity-building in these priority areas[10].

Science and Technology progress are strategic to Burkina Faso’s government, as announced by the ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation in the launching of the Capacity Development for Agricultural Innovation Systems (CDAIS) initiative [11]. These progresses are essential to reduce importation of foreign technologies and empower local expertise. 

In Burkina Faso, the exacerbation of conflicts, including over natural resources, and the rapid deterioration of insecurity are a source of major concern, both for the public authorities and for the populations. Indeed, Burkina Faso is working hard to emerge from the large-scale political and social upheaval that characterized the 18 months following the popular uprising that resulted in the resignation of President Blaise Compaoré in October 2014. In view of the presidential and legislative elections held in November 2015, and the largely successful municipal elections in May 2016, the country appears to have reached a positive turning point, although governing institutions remain in transition and fragile.

Environmental Governance

The Minister of the Environment, Green Economy and Climate Change is in charge of the environmental governance of the country [12]. In Burkina Faso, environmental management policies have been greatly developed and reinforced by several sectoral policies and other strategic documents. These environmental strategy documents are in line with the search for conditions for sustainable economic and social development compatible with environmentally sound management and exploitation of natural resources and the environment. More specifically, Burkina Faso has developed its National Action Plan for the Environment (1991-2005) and its Plan for the Environment and Sustainable Development (2005-2020) as well as the Forest and Wildlife Resource Management Framework Program and the National Action Plan to Combat Desertification (PAN / LCD) and the National Policy on Soil Fertility [13].

In 2015 the country submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), through which it has committed to act on three main scenarios related to GHG emission reductions by 2030, as indicated: 6.6% (unconditional), 11.6% (hybrid conditional) or 36.95% (adaptation co-benefits) reduction in GHG emissions by 2030.[14]

As an implementing agency of the Global Environment Facility, UNDP has supported the Government of Burkina Faso in the implementation of the various international commitments signed in accordance with the adoption of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change. This includes technical and financial support for the formulation of the First Communication Note in 2001, the Second Communication Note in 2010, the National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) to Climate Variability and Change in 2007.

National context alignement with the EU Green Deal

Burkina Faso is a key country in the region, ensuring a cultural and climate-geographical continuum between the countries of the Sahel and the coastal countries. Thus, the stability of the country is important to maintain the overall stability of the region. The EU's approach in Burkina Faso aims primarily to secure and stabilize the country, using an integrated "humanitarian-development-peace" (HDP) approach and with the objective of strengthening the resilience of populations, by responding to the needs of both displaced populations and host communities [15].

Burkina Faso is a country with which the EU has maintained a constructive and quality partnership for several decades. The country has benefited from EU support in the sectors of governance, public finance, health, water and sanitation, food and nutritional security, sustainable agriculture, environment and natural resource management. Nowadays, the main common objective of the EU and Burkina Faso cooperation is to respond urgently to the current situation of fragility of the country, to prevent any further deterioration and to contribute to its stabilization. This is meant to be done through high-level political dialogue and support for strengthening social cohesion, improving governance and local development (priority area 1), through investment in inclusive human development (priority area 2) and through support for the development of a green and resilient economy (priority area 3) [15].

More specifically, according to the Multi-Annual Indicative Programme 2021-2027, the EU-Burkina Faso cooperation is based on three main priority sectors: (i) Peace, Social Cohesion, Good Governance and Local Development, (ii) Inclusive human development and (iii) Green and resilient economy, particularly linked to the EU Green Deal Strategy and its  components on agri-food systems, biodiversity and sustainable energy, and gender strategy. Cross-cutting issues such as environment and climate change are taken into account in the three sectors.

On the framework of the adopted Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Sustainable Development (SCADD, 2011-2015) and the 11th European Development Fund National Indicative Program (NIP), Burkina and EU worked to achieve strong, sustained and quality economic growth, generating multiplier effects on the level of income improvement, the quality of life of the population and respecting the principle of sustainable development [16].

Moreover, the EU and Burkina Faso have defined two Team Europe Initiatives namely (i) “Inclusion for stability” with the strengthening the prevention and management of local conflicts, as well as the resilience of population; and the (ii)Green Deal for young people” which goal is to promote sustainable economic growth providing decent job opportunities for new generations by promoting the green potential of the land and the economic opportunities around secondary towns [15].

Key Environmental-Development Challenges


As a low-income nation, landlocked in the Sahel and with limited natural resources, Burkina Faso is expected to experience some of the worst impacts of climate change. The country has already faced various challenging changes in temperature, rainfall, storms, and extreme weather events, exacerbating the low agricultural productivity that continues to hold back the country's growth. In addition, Burkina Faso remains one of the poorest countries in the world, heavily dependent on the primary sector, including gold mining and agriculture. Burkina Faso is ranked among the most climate vulnerable countries globally. In terms of climate vulnerability, UNDP has identified 4 major challenges faced by the country: deforestation, desertification, low rainfall and extreme weather events. Further climate-related hazards stem from locusts, dust storms, and heat waves, which also contribute to increasing climate vulnerability (GFDRR 2011). Combined, these exacerbate challenges already faced by the population and stress agricultural yields and management of natural resources (UNDP 2020) [17].



Burkina Faso ranks 138th of 169 countries in water vulnerability to climate change, with lower scores (such as this one) denoting higher vulnerability and Burkina Faso is extremely vulnerable to water related stressors (ND-GAIN Index 2021). Many rivers in the country are intermittent; just two rivers (the Mouhoun and Nakambe) flow year-round (USAID 2012). Rainfall in some parts of the country is present for only two months of the year (GFDRR 2011). Adding to already scarce water resources, increasing temperatures are projected to increase evapotranspiration of up to 6.8 per cent under the medium-high global emissions scenario RCP6.0 (Potsdam Institute 2020). Increasing temperatures coupled with decreasing precipitation are expected to cause water deficits, low crop yields, famine, increased desertification and the loss of livestock and crop-dependent livelihoods [17].


[1] Britannica (2022). Burkina Faso - Ethnic groups and languages.

[2] Climate Change Knowledge Portal, The World Bank. Country – Burkina Faso..

[3] Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division, UN (2021). World Statistics Pocket Book 2021 edition.

[4] World Population review Website (2022). Burkina Faso Population 2022 (Live).

[5] Statista (2020). Burkina Faso: Urbanization from 2010 to 2020.

[6] Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UN (2021). World Urbanization, Country Fiche, Burkina Faso.

[7]  The World Bank (2017). Burkina Faso: Developing infrastructure and an enabling environment for sustained access to water and sanitation services for the urban poor.

[8]  The World Bank Data (2016). Data Bank. World Development Indicators, Burkina Faso.

[9]  The World Bank Data. GDP, Burkina Faso Data.

[10] UNESCO (2015). Science towards 2030.

[11] FAO. The Tropical Agriculture platform (TAP). Burkina Faso: science and technology are key to sustainable rural development.

[12] Ministère de L'Environnement, de l'Economie verte et du Changement climatique.

[13] Desert to Power G5 Sahel Facility Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, The African Development Bank (AfDB) (2021). ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK BURKINA FASO - Provisional Report.

[14] Burkina Faso (2015). Intended Nationally Determined Contribution in Burkina Faso.

[15] INTPA, European Commission (2021). Burkina Faso – Union Européenne. Programme Indicatif Multi-annuel 2021-2027.

[16] UNESCO (2015). Stratégie de Croissance Accélérée et de Développement Durable (SCADD): nouvelle politique de développement du Burkina Faso (2011-2015).

[17] Climate Centre (2021). Burkina Faso.