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Participants of International Visitors Leadership Program Awardee Inspire Enugu State Students to Plant Trees

In a remarkable initiative to promote environmental consciousness among young minds, piloted by Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke of the Center for Climate Change and Development, participants of the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) Awardee embarked on a mission to various schools across Enugu State. Their goal? To educate and engage students in the importance of tree planting while imparting practical knowledge on the most efficient and effective methods of tree planting.

The event was inaugurated with great enthusiasm by the Honourable Commissioner for Education of Enugu State, Prof. Ndubueze L. Mbah, at New Layout Secondary School, Enugu. Prof. Mbah’s presence marked the official commencement of this impactful program, setting a tone of significance for the entire community.

Students from New Layout Secondary School, as well as several other schools, were provided with hands-on training in tree planting, ensuring that they not only understand the theoretical aspects but also gain practical experience. Under the expert coordination of Hon. Basil Ojengwa and Mr. Elochukwu Anieze, the IVLP Awardees guided the students in planting numerous trees within their school premises, thereby contributing to a greener and healthier environment for generations to come.

The IVLP participants, hailing from various countries, shared their expertise and knowledge about the pivotal role trees play in mitigating climate change, preserving biodiversity, and enhancing the overall quality of life. Through interactive sessions, they engaged the students in discussions about the significance of trees and the urgency of taking action to protect the environment.

The program extended its reach to other schools, including Community Secondary School, Akwuke-Garriki, and Community Secondary School, Umuchigbo, Enugu. This widespread effort ensured that a larger segment of Enugu State’s youth was inspired and educated on the importance of tree planting.

The initiative received overwhelming support from the local community, educational institutions, and government officials, reflecting a collective commitment to sustainable environmental practices. It serves as a shining example of how international collaboration and knowledge exchange can drive positive change at the grassroots level.

The impact of this educational program is expected to be far-reaching, as these young students are now equipped with both the knowledge and practical skills to become environmental stewards in their communities. The seeds of change have been planted, and Enugu State’s future looks greener and more sustainable than ever.

As the IVLP participants continue their mission to foster environmental awareness, their efforts, professionally coordinated by Hon. Basil Ojengwa and Mr. Elochukwu Anieze, are a testament to the power of education and community engagement in building a more sustainable and environmentally conscious world.

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Climate Action: President Tinubu’s Government Needs to Correct Course ahead of COP28

The 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) may have come and gone but the debates and the representations by the global leaders continue to shape the path to commitments and development. In his opening remark, the UN Secretary-General said, “action is what the world needs”. That indeed captures what the world must focus on—more action and less talk.

On September 20, 2023, the President of Nigeria, His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR, harped on six important points: (i) the need to see Africa’s development as priority through partnership, (ii) direct investment in critical industries; (iii) affirm democratic governance in Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) region; (iv) human trafficking; (v) securing the mineral-rich areas in Africa; and (vi) Climate Change.

While some have called the president’s speech bold, he only spent a few minutes on climate change and the approach African countries will take to address it. According to the president, efforts must be aligned with global collaboration based on Africa’s unique requirements, particularly as it intersects with climate change and the continent’s growth.

Even though President Tinubu’s speech amplified the Great Green Wall Initiative, desert encroachment and flooding; the speech was however silent on specific steps being taken to combat these menaces, and he did not propose new actions Nigeria is taking to accelerate climate action and by extension how the country— the giant of Africa— intends to show leadership within the continent in driving up climate action including strategic approach to meeting its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Recall that during UNGA76, former President of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, had committed to building a climate-resilient economy fully aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). President Buhari would at COP26 in Glasgow commit Nigeria to attaining net zero by 2060, and later proceeded to sign into law the Climate Change Bill. At UNGA77 in 2022, President Buhari again reiterated that Nigeria will not make the same mistakes developed countries made which brought about the climate crisis but went ahead to challenge developed countries and Multilateral Finance Institutions to do the right thing.

One would expect that Nigeria will follow the path of this statement by the former president, sadly, there has not been a clear statement that climate action will be pursued with urgency and deserved vigour. In all fairness, President Tinubu has taken some actions which align with acceptable global climate action— removal of petroleum subsidy; signing into law of the Electricity Act 2023 which liberalizes the industry and provides a major boost to investments in renewable energy. We have also seen his choices on important appointment of Special Advisers into the National Economic Council (NEC) and Climate Change. Yet, it is sometimes hard to fathom any clear direction as to how his administration intends to up the ante in the fight against climate change.

While the President’s speech at UNGA78 lands some good points, it was somewhat a missed opportunity to demonstrate leadership and the prioritization of Nigeria’s action on climate change which is extremely relevant to achieve his bold sustainable economic development plan for Nigeria and Africa.

Similarly, the president’s absence at the Africa Climate Summit was a great miss for Nigeria to show leadership and stand side by side with her African brothers to take a unified position on critical climate change issues such as adaptation, loss and damage, renewable energy, and climate finance.

The UNGA78 platform should have been leveraged to galvanize continental action and demand accountability but Nigeria failed to do that.

But it is not too late for the Tinubu administration to course-correct.

As the world builds up to COP28, with Africa and the friends of Africa championing the truth that Africa presents the world with a solution to the climate crises, all eyes again will be on the Nigerian government to firm up its plans and reach out to the African Group of Negotiators and other Heads of Governments, and lead from the front by sending a high-powered delegation to the negotiations while holding several bilateral meetings to hold developed countries accountable.

Prior to that, Nigeria must now take a decisive action by committing a significant percentage of the savings from petroleum subsidy savings to innovative climate action that intersects with the sustainable development of the country. Such a commitment will send a strong signal to global climate leadership and motivate others to emulate.

Another decision will be to create a concrete path for Nigeria to industrialize in order to tackle most of its pressing developmental problems. This should include presenting an equitable and sustainable phase-out of fossil fuel plan to avoid being left with stranded assets, or worse deeper poverty.

African countries, led by Nigeria, must therefore see climate action as a critical and indeed ever-present staple of their governments’ priority policies. Any African government not prioritizing that, has set out from the very beginning to fail its people and that will be sad.

African Adaptation Initiative (AAI) Programme Call for Proposal 2023

The African Adaptation Initiative (AAI) programme, initiated by the African Union, and funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in 23 countries, aims to establish more resilient agriculture in Africa. Its first phase, started in June 2022, will consist of developing a tool for modelling climate risks, their impacts, solutions, and policies to be implemented, and will lead to the identification of projects to support these solutions.
This call for proposals aims to identify a list of 20 projects, then to select 10 pilot projects with a high impact on strengthening the resilience of agricultural, livestock and fisheries activities on the one hand, and low-carbon energy production for sustainable agriculture on the other, in each of the 23 countries involved. The challenge is to aggregate an inclusive dynamic with all the actors of the agricultural sector and renewable energies for agriculture.

The winners of this call for projects, as part of phase 2 of this program, will receive free technical assistance to mobilize private financing under bankable projects, or public funding from bilateral and multilateral climate finance institutions.

Application Link

Application Deadline
30th of September 2023

NB: All MDA’s, Private Sectors and CSO/NGO’s are encouraged to apply, before the deadline
Minimum funding is One Million USD

Prof. Okereke Organises IVLP- Funded Tree Planting Exercise In Enugu

International climate expert and leading advocate for climate action in Nigeria, Professor Chukwumerije Okereke has organized a climate education and tree planting exercise in Enugu State.

The state tree planting exercise is one of the programmes mapped out for the implementation of the International Visitors’ Leadership Programme (IVLP) impact award given to Prof.l Chukwumerije Okereke by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.Nigeria

The exercise involved the planting of 35 ornamental trees along the road from P&T Bus Stop towards Ziks Avenue in a bid to raise awareness about the dangers of climate change and urban air pollution and the positive role of urban greening in combating both challenges.

The state tree planting exercise was flagged off by the Hon. Commissioner for Environment Enugu state who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of State Ministry of Environment Mr. Albert Obiora Ekete.

The flag-off was witnessed by 24 young leaders present, staff of the state ministry of Environment, CEO of Eco-cyclers, Ms Oge Nwonye, a Member of the State Government Palliative Team, Mr. Basil Ojengwa, and many other volunteers who joined the exercise.

The young leaders had been selected from over 4,000 applications to be trained on the fundamentals of climate change science, urban air pollution, and climate advocacy to equip them to become more active citizens and more effective in spreading the message of climate action.

A total of 35 ornamental trees (Green Ficus) were planted by the participants with help and support from the staff of the State Ministry of Environment that came with the Permanent Secretary.

Each of the participants present planted a tree after the flag-off was done by the Permanent Secretary. The campaign also involved an arrangement with the State Ministry of Environment to water and care for the trees to ensure they survive and flourish.

He said that trees symbolize a profound commitment to addressing the pressing challenges of air pollution and climate change that have been plaguing the state.

He said that trees stand as silent sentinels, poised to purify the air, mitigate the effects of climate change, and restore the balance of the local ecosystem.

Professor Okereke thanked the Hon Commissioner for Environment, Prof Sam Ugwu, the Permanent Secretary Albert Obiora Ekete, and the entire staff of the State Ministry of Environment for supporting the exercise.

He thanked the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and their implementing partner Meridian International for giving him the opportunity, to contribute to climate awareness, leadership training, and the sustainable development of Enugu State through the IVLP impact program.

He assured them that he is committed to working with them to empower more young leaders in the state and beyond to become active citizens in promoting stronger climate and environmental action in the state.

The young leaders were informed that the next activity will be the school visit to educate the students on Urban greening and tree planting.

For the organization and implementation of the programme, Professor Okereke was actively supported by Eco-cyclers, the Center for Climate Change and Development, and the Society for Planet and Prosperity.