West Africa has a rich ecology, with strong biodiversity and several distinct regions. The climate and ecology are heavily influenced by the dry Sahara to the North and East, which provides dry winds during the Harmattan, and the west and humid climate to the south and of the Atlantic which provides seasonal monsoons. This mix of ecologies, mean that there is both biodiversity-rich tropical forest, and drylands that support a number of rare or endangered fauna, such as pangolin, rhinoceros and elephant. Because of the pressure for economic development, many of these ecologies are threatened by processes like deforestation, biodiversity loss, overfishing, pollution from mining, plastic and other economic processes, and the extreme changes that will result from climate change in West Africa.
West Africa went from roughly 5% of the gross domestic product in 2016 to over 10% of gross domestic product in 2019.