*Says Nigeria has adopted many good measures to sustainably manage its environment

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA- PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has charged the global community to respect natural habitats, noting that it was a major way to conserve biodiversity.

The president, speaking, Monday, at the 33rd Session of the International Coordinating Council of the Man and Biosphere Programme,MABICC, in Abuja, particularly called for behavioural change and living in peace and harmony with nature.

He said already, Nigeria has adopted a good number of measures to ensure that it sustainably manages its environment.

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Speaking through his representative and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, at the global event,hosted by Nigeria,Buhari insisted that change of behaviour and respecting natural habitats were “paramount to a future resilient generation where biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and sustainably used while maintaining ecosystem services and delivering social benefits to the people.”

According to him,“Nigeria has adopted a good number of measures to ensure that it sustainably manages its environment and these include developmental policies on the environment, solid waste management, plastic waste management, biosafety policy, gender and climate change.”

The president applauded UNESCO for enabling Nigeria to host the global summit on the continent of Africa for the first time, reminding participants that “as you work to reconcile humanity and nature, the challenge remains your ability to continually demonstrate that biodiversity conservation can foster human development with a continuous provision of ecological services.”

Buhari said Nigeria has taken various reversal measures in compliance with some of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.

Hear him:“The realization and understanding of the significance of environmental conservation as the propelling driving force for sustainable development in the light of destructive environmental challenges and threats to the country’s ecosystem culminated in the various responsive and resilient reversal measures. This is in compliance with a good number of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“Through the operationalization of the aforementioned policies and programmes, the following mitigation efforts are being carefully implemented; accelerated implementation of the Ogoni cleanup for restoration of polluted and degraded land, effective implementation of the Great Green world Programme, promotion of set targets for tree planting and expansion, of the protected areas through the creation of 10 additional National Parks.”

The president,who said he pledged at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly that his administration would plant 35 million trees nationwide to addressing the effect of climate change, said the government had since planted about 80 percent of the trees.

He said the project was aimed at enhancing socio-economic livelihood as well as increase forest cover and significantly veritable carbon sync towards climate change and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Commenting on Lake Chad Basin, President Buhari said Nigeria was spearheading the recharging and resuscitation of Lake Chad with a view to improving the socio-economic livelihoods of people inhabiting the area, as well as address the environmental and security challenges that threaten the region.

The Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, in her remarks, regretted that
“erosion of biodiversity” was threatening human existence.

“The erosion of biodiversity is no longer a hypothesis, but a fact, one that can already be seen and felt in our everyday lives we are currently confronting. Biodiversity is collapsing, at an unprecedented speed.

“From the treetops to the ocean depths, from vertebrates to invertebrates,3 no species is spared. And we know very well why: because of a lifestyle that is putting pressure on the natural world. Indeed, climate and biodiversity are inextricably linked: when one suffers, the other does too.

“As Nigeria knows all too well, especially on the shores of Lake Chad, we must therefore heed the wisdom of the internationally acclaimed Chinua Achebe, who said, when we stand on this Earth, we must “go with her at her pace”, in his novel No Longer At Ease”, she said.

She added:“We have less than 10 years to achieve the goal that the United Nations wishes to set: for 30% of the planet to be covered by protected areas.

“Therefore, we must double our efforts. This is why, a few days ago, at the Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, we committed to doubling the protected areas under UNESCO’s care by 2030.”

On his part,the United Nations,UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon,regretted that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world into difficult and unpleasant conditions.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with its devastating consequences resulting in an unprecedented human crisis that is affecting the most vulnerable and the poorest among us, especially youths, women and children. The pandemic has compounded already existing problems like violent extremism, children staying out of school, poverty and food insecurity,”he said.

According to him,”Despite these consequences, the Covid-19 pandemic has called our attention to fixing our deteriorating relationship with nature and has reaffirmed that biodiversity is fundamental for human health and critical for sustainable development. “

“As we may observe, our combined attitudes and lifestyles have dramatically altered the land around us. We have cleared forests and other natural terrain to create spaces for urban areas, settlements, agriculture and industries.

“In doing so, we have reduced the overall space for wildlife and degraded natural safe spaces between humans and animals. We must all rise up and take responsibility to restore this Human-Nature safe space by taking responsible steps to conserve biodiversity and restore lost resources,”he added.

On her part,Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, noted that the event presented a veritable platform, through which cooperation and research are boosted in order to achieve capacity building and ecological restoration.

She said:“This is the first time that MAB-ICC is being held on the African Continent since its inception and I am proud that Nigeria has taken the lead by hosting this event today. For this reason and so much more, I wish to appreciate His Excellency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari for approving that this event is hosted by Nigeria.

“Nigeria acknowledges the role of UNESCO in contributing to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture, and communication. Also of great importance is the Man and Biosphere program which seeks to reconcile humans and nature and demonstrate that it is possible to use biodiversity sustainably while fostering its conservation.

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