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Challenges of building an environment- friendly nation

Nigeria is currently faced with many environmental problems such as climate change, deforestation, urbanisation, desertification, erosion, overpopulation and all kinds of pollution. While some of the growing crisis of development are being tackled through policies, others have overwhelmed the authorities. The Property & Environment Editor, CHINEDUM UWAEGBULAM appraises the highs and lows of the Buhari administration in the environment sector.

BOTH from the pre-and post-inauguration statements, President Muhammed Buhari appears to have sufficiently warmed his heart among Nigerians and the global community about the direction of his government on the environment: transiting to a low-carbon climate-resilient economy.

The icing on the cake is the signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change during the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA71), which demonstrated Nigeria’s commitment to a global effort to reverse the effects of the negative trend.

Climate Change
Furthermore, the President articulated the country’s commitment through its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that strive to build a climate-resilient society across the diverse terrain of Nigeria. He instituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change to govern the implementation of the country’s NDCs, thereby ensuring a strong cross-sectoral approach, coherence and synergy for climate action.

While admitting that implementing the roadmap will not be easy in the face of dwindling national revenues, President Buhari however, indicated that both internal and external resources would be mobilized to meet Nigeria’s targets.

And so when the President announced that the Nigerian government will develop a more robust sectorial action plan, and expand the scope of the Sovereign Green Bonds in line with the intended upward review of the NDC’s towards the inclusion of the water and waste sectors by 2020. It was reassuring.

To some extent, President Buhari is acclaimed to have delivered two sovereign Green Bonds resulting in realisation of Nigeria’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is certainly commendable within the year in view.

In fact, Nigeria’s first sovereign green bond was oversubscribed by about N100 million as investors staked N10.791 billion on the N10.69 billion ($30 million) bond. Another Series II Green Bond issuance was also launched to further demonstrate a commitment to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent (unconditionally) by 2030, as outlined under the Paris Agreement.

The question that naturally arose was: can the government muster so much courage to implement the green bond, and account publicly for its proceeds? Which inter-ministerial agency will monitor the projects? Who will provide the leadership and ensure coherent implementation?

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, however, provided the answers. He said the green bond is part of the government’s recovery growth plan initiative, and a vehicle to drive the economy in terms of environmental projects funding that would be managed by Debt Management Office (DMO).

UN seeks new contract for nature to tackle hunger, climate change

United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has called for a “new contract for nature” to address global challenges connected to land degradation, such as forced migration, hunger and climate change.

Guterres made the appeal in a message yesterday to mark the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.

“Through international action and solidarity, we can scale up land restoration and nature-based solutions for climate action and the benefit of future generations. By doing so, we can deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leave no one behind,” he said.

Desertification is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations, with more than three billion people routinely affected.

Dry lands, which cover more than a third of the planet’s land surface, are extremely prone to over-exploitation and inappropriate land use, such as overgrazing and bad irrigation practices.

This year’s observation puts the spotlight on sustainable production and consumption. With ‘Food. Feed. Fibre’ as the slogan, the aim is to get people everywhere to reduce food waste, shop at local markets and swap clothes instead of always buying new ones.

The head of the UN office, which oversees a global treaty on preventing land degradation, said although the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) might have temporarily curtailed some freedoms, such as travelling at will, people still have freedom of choice.

“In our globalised world, the food we eat, the feed for our livestock and the fibre for clothes impact land thousands of miles away,” said Executive Secretary at the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Ibrahim Thiaw. “Each of us holds the power to protect the land for each choice we make in our daily lives. We can still choose to protect nature. By doing so, we, in fact, protect our future.”

The UN scribe pointed noted to reverse land degradation, such as the Great Green Wall in Africa’s Sahel region, launched by the African Union (AU) in 2007.

Through the initiative, trees are planted from Senegal to Djibouti, to restore land and boost food security, transforming lives and livelihoods along the way.

“Such efforts bring back bio-diversity, reduce the effect of climate change and make communities more resilient,” the UN chief said. “All told, the benefits outweigh the costs 10-fold.”

Globally, 75 per cent of land is degraded, according to the President of the UN General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.

“As land degrades, resources deplete. Thus, the most vulnerable people are further exposed to poverty and hunger; with women, smallholder farmers, indigenous communities and children disproportionately affected,” he said.

Muhammad-Bande believes that an “urgent paradigm shift” is needed, focusing on protection, sustainability and restoration; hence he called for renewed commitment to safeguard the planet.

Nigeria backs hosting of COP26 in 2021, pledges to raise climate ambition

As the world grapples with coronavirus, the Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) and decision to shift the UN Climate Change Conference to November 2021.

Italy is assuming the COP26 Presidency in partnership with the United Kingdom.

The Minister of State for the Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, in a tweet following the announcement of a new date, said the Nigerian government supports the development by the COP Bureau after its meeting on 28 May this year.

Ikeazor also explained, “with the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the environment and livelihood, the annual summit on Climate Change was originally slated to take place in Glasgow, United Kingdom by November this year.

“With the pre-COP events to be held by co-host Italy in September and October, which was postponed due to the crisis, the new date will give Nigeria time to prepare and deliver on negotiations mandates on Climate Action.”

The minister further stressed that Nigeria will keep the momentum of mitigating climate change in gear while maintaining the World Health Organisation Safety Protocols on Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are working on National Determined Contributions and raising the ambition for climate action, aim at rebuilding post-Covid-19 recovery for a greener, resilient and sustainable environment in line with the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

Similarly, the Regional Ambassador for Sub-Saharan Africa on COP26, Paul Arkwright in his tweet described the new dates as good news, ‘‘looking forward to working with Africa to maintain momentum on climate change.”

He also said the primary considerations for the new date was brought about by the COVID-19 crisis, which were to safeguard the health and safety of participants, and to ensure inclusiveness and maximise the potential to build climate ambition.

“This would enable the host country to ensure a focus on finance, energy transition and adaptation as partners for African to host COP27. COP26 Envoy, John Murton and COP26 Lead Negotiator Archie Young jointly signed the rescheduling of the global annual event.

‘‘Our priorities when considering the new date were: the health of participants, the representation of Parties and Non-Party stakeholders, allowing time for preparation of work to deliver on negotiations mandates and the ambitious and inclusive event.”

Nigeria strengthens capacity to address impact of climate change on health.

Abuja, 19 February 2020 – Mr Ayeo Olomiete, a health officer from Bayelsa State says “my community has been experiencing flood which always affects the entire area, displacing families and causing damage to health facilities almost every year. Before, we neither understood what the problem was, nor know what exact action to take.”

Speaking at a Sensitization/Training Workshop on Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change and Greening of the Health Sector held in Abuja recently, Alhaji Mashi Abdullahi, the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) said, “Healthcare workers can help address the problems and impacts of climate change on health and welfare through knowledge on mitigation and adaption.”

As a participant at the capacity building activity, Mr Olomiete said the training was timely, which “has not only improved our knowledge and skills about climate change, but also helped us to know in practical terms, what specific actions need to be taken to mitigate against disastrous/deleterious effects of climate change in the health sector.”

Climate change has become a defining issue of the 21st century. Together with air pollution, climate change constitutes one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019 as expressed at the World Health Assembly. WHO estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year globally, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress alone; this was estimated to translate to direct damage costs to health of between USD 2-4 billion per year.

In 2012, flood displaced 2 million people in Nigeria, additional 100000 in 2015, 92000 in 2016, 250000 in 2017, and in 2018, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported that 1.9 million people were affected.

Morbidity and mortality associated with climate change could arise from more frequent outbreaks of endemic and emerging water borne and vector borne infectious diseases such as cholera, Lassa fever, cholera as well as injuries and mortality that follow extreme weather events, like heatwaves and floods.

In his remarks during the capacity strengthening event, WHO Nigeria Officer In-Charge, Dr Peter Clement commended organizers of the training and establishment of climate change officers in the 36 states+1of Nigeria as steps in the right direction, “this will help the nation to mitigate and adapt to climate change and build resilience of the health sector.”

He further noted that there are lots of co-benefits of greening the health sector; these ranges from reduced health care cost through prevention of communicable and non-Communicable diseases to strengthening inter-sectoral approach towards UHC.

Nigeria is committed to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emission by 20% unconditionally and 45% with international support, according to the Department of Climate Change.
As part of the steps towards refocusing on the climate change issues in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Environment ( FMOE) established the Department of Climate Change (DCC), saddled with the responsibilities of implementing climate change policies and programmes, More actions such as tree planting, switch to renewable energy, training and campaigns, better transport, food and energy-use choices that can result in improved health, particularly through reduced air pollution are needed in all sectors to reduce emissions of Green House Gases thereby limiting the adverse consequences of climate change.

WHO remains committed to supporting Nigeria to building climate-resilient health systems and tracking national progress in protecting health from climate change.

MECS TRIID LPG Cooking Research Project

The Climate Change and Development Centre, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Nigeria and her partners –Techno Oil Limited and Africare – are implementing a grant funded project by the DFID funded Modern Energy Cooking Services -Technology Research Innovation for International Development [MECS-TRIID] on “Enhancing LPG Access for Semi-Urban Populations in Nigeria.”

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