By Kingsley Adegboye
Environment experts who met in Lagos last week, have blamed the aggravating impacts of climate change on the coastal and marine environment of coastal states on unplanned and poor land use as well as urbanisation.
The experts met at a two-day Climate Change Dialogue organised by the United Nations Development Programme UNDP, in collaboration with Lagos State Government for coastal states in Nigeria.
The coastal states which were represented at the dialogue by scientists, administrators, civil society organisations and media practitioners, include Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Cross River and Akwa Ibom.
In a communique issued at the end of the dialogue, the participants posited that the impact of climate change on the coastal areas is increasing their vulnerability in the security of water supplies and risk to existing infrastructure. It has also resulted in adverse health effects, increased threat to ecosystems and coastal development.
Ecosystems and coastal development
In order to get out of this serious problem, the dialogue recommended that the concerned eight states should immediately establish a functional network for the sharing of best practices about adaptation options for coastal zone management. The states were likewise urged to undertake in-depth research to determine the vulnerability of their coastal and marine environment to anticipated global warming-induced sea level rise
The forum observed that “the effects of climate change-induced sea level rise are trans-boundary in the nature and will affect the states in different but interlinked ways”.
“It is, therefore, imperative for states to come together in forging a collective response to the crisis of climate change in the coastal region of Nigeria. States should adopt a regional approach to addressing the impact of climate change through a well-established regional cooperation mechanism.
To do this effectively, each state should develop action-oriented mitigation and adaptation strategies and activities to address the challenges of sea level rise-induced flooding.
State-specific strategies, derived from the relevant sections of the National Climate Change Policy and Response Strategy, should then be integrated into a regional strategy and action plan for a coordinated implementation,” the participants advocated.
The states were further advised to build their capacities so as to enable them have access to global multilateral and bilateral climate change funds that are critical to meet the huge financial resources required to adopt practical, but costly adaptation initiatives required to respond more effectively to the challenges of sea level rise and other extreme weather events-induced flooding in the coastal region of Nigeria.
The forum also suggested that regional oceanographic and marine research institutions should be strengthened to undertake evidence-based research and early warning systems should be established to enhance the resilience of the people living in the affected zones.
According to Deputy Country Director, UNDP, Jan Thomas Hiemestra, the dialogue was aimed at sensitising stakeholders in Nigeria’s coastal areas as a proactive strategic preparedness action plan to forestall future negative consequences of abrupt sea level rise.
He added that the lessons learnt from the brainstorming were envisaged to become a model for other coastal preparedness action plans in Nigeria.
Lagos State Environment Commissioner, Tunji Bello, lamented that Lagos has in recent times suffered from ocean surge and consequently the degradation of beaches (Alpha and Kuramo) and loss of lives.
Bello added that it is against this background that the Lagos State Government has embarked on a number of projects aimed at building internal resilience to the vagaries of ocean surge and other climate change induced conditions.