Conscious of the threats to humanity’s existence and planetary survival, interested in sustainable development and protection of the environment within the context of regional integration coupled with the concomitant economy of large scale and consequential advantages of collectivist approach and evident homogeneity in language, culture, history, ancestry, common environmental challenges that are aggravated by climate change, among others, environment stakeholders in the six (6) states of southwest Nigeria met at a 2-Day High-Level Regional Meeting to chart common solutions. The meeting which came as a collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Environment and Sanitation of the State of Osun and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the African Adaptation Programme (AAP), was facilitated by HEDA Resource Centre to address Climate Change, Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development in the South-western part of Nigeria with the theme Developing Regional Framework for Addressing Climate Change Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development.
The meeting was purposed to achieve the following objectives:
- Develop a REGIONAL framework and Plan of Action for climate change adaptation, mitigation and environmental conservation.
- Identify and address knowledge, resources, policy and information gaps in climate change adaptation, mitigation and environmental conservation within the region.
- Increase the region’s voice and relevance on climate change and environmental conservation governance at the National, sub-regional and global levels.
The meeting was attended by about 200 participants and 20 resource persons drawn from the academia, civil society groups, Federal Ministry of Environment, National Human Rights Commission (NHC), Nigeria Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ministries of Environment, Physical Planning, Finance, Agriculture, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Regional Integration from Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo and Ekiti States respectively and it held from 25th to 26th September at the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Osogbo, State of Osun. Itwas declared open by the Governor of the State of Osun; Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola who equally delivered an inspirational, historical and pragmatic address on the imperative of regional integration and common approach to environmental protection and conservation, among other lofty goals. Also in attendance were the Deputy Governor of the State of Osun, Otunba Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori, the wife of the Governor of the State of Osun who is also a UNICEF Ambassador, Alhaja Serifat Aregbesola, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Honourable Najim Salam, who was represented by House Committee Chairman on Environment, Hon. Fafowora, other Chairmen State House Committees on Environment and Agriculture from the region, the Honourable Commissioner for Environment and Sanitation of the State of Osun, Professor Bukola Oyawoye, other Hon. Commissioners and Special Advisers for the Environment, Forestry and Regional Integration from across the region, As well as Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Agencies and Directors from the across the region.
Apart from the keynote address on the theme of the meeting, ably and admirably delivered by Dr. Muiz Adeyemi Banire, former Commissioner for Environment, Lagos State, a total number of four papers were presented by a carefully selected faculty consisting of tested scholars and experienced environmental protection activists such as Professors S. O. Bada, Labo Popoola, Emmanuel Kayode Oladipo and Olanrewaju Fagbohun, with a special intervention on flood control by Dr. Alade. State of the environment reports were succinctly given by each of the six states of the region and erudite academics and environment activists were on ground to make critical interventions. The meeting was divided into five sessions and a Work Plan Session to develop the Framework for next steps and follow up actions. The topics of papers presented included Climate Change as a critical Development Issue for South-West Nigeria: Imperative and Prospects for co-ordinated Regional Responses; Agriculture, Biodiversity and Shared Forest-Based Resources Management: Challenges and Prospects for South West Nigeria; Climate Change, Freshwater Resources and Flooding Challenges in South West Nigeria: Turning Common Problems to Common wealth; and Policy, Legal Implications and Options for a Regional Governance Approach to Climate Change Adaptation and Environmental Conservation for South West Nigeria.
The meeting also received a goodwill message from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) given by the Deputy Country Director, Mr. Janthomas Hiemstra.
The meeting observed as follows that:
1) concerns about climate change have recently become so heightened as to supersede human anxiety over all other forms of environmental disturbances;
2) according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007c: 30) “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level”;
3) climate change is already increasing the risk of exposure to hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity among the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, including the people of the southwest of Nigeria;
4) it is now universally acknowledged that climate change is unarguably the single biggest development challenge facing mankind and it poses grave threats to the continuity and sustainability of agricultural practices, food supply chain, human settlement activities and so much more;
5) the unfolding scenarios such as the drought in the Sahel region and the devastating flooding in some parts of the world including several states in Nigeria indicate that the challenges posed by climate change are not confined to one geographical region of the world; though sadly, while human activities, particularly those of developed countries have been identified as key drivers of climate change, sub-Saharan African countries are disproportionately the victims of these challenges;
6) data paucity and unreliability make planning to combat the impacts of climate change impracticable;
7) all sectors of our socio-economic development, including the natural ecosystems, are vulnerable to climate change. The threat is even worse for the livelihoods, health and well being of the poor particularly small scale women and men farmers who contribute significantly to food production in Nigeria;
8) within the Southwestern region of Nigeria, climate change poses significant threats to the achievement of the MDGs, especially those related to eliminating poverty and hunger and promoting environmental sustainability; In other words, agriculture, biodiversity and forest ecosystems constitute a finely interwoven mesh of cross-cutting impacts and challenges;
9) the vast and rich forest resources of the southwestern region of Nigeria may vanish in the face of multiple threats
10) allocation of forested areas for agriculture affects biodiversity directly by converting natural habitats to cultivation, grazing, or other manipulations, and through the associated repeated disturbances that accompany conversion;
11) vulnerability of South-Western Nigeria to climate change includes:
Drought and desertification
avoidable loss of flora and fauna
Spread of evasive species
Receding /shifting coastal lines
Unprecedented human and animal migration
Deforestation and de-vegetation
Biological diversity depletion
Land resources degradation
Oceanic surge and flooding
Water and air pollution mainly from industrial activities
Urban decay and municipal waste
depletion of water availability through destruction of catchments and aquifers;
forest regeneration becoming more difficult;
conflicts associated with the impact of climate change
12) most state and local climate change initiatives are being pursued unilaterally and in uncoordinated manners by the State governments in the SouthWest. For example, many States are independently developing action plans to respond to climate change and extreme weather events-induced floods. This approach neglects the inter – and intra-state nature of the problem and the fact that watersheds producing flood water are trans-boundary across many states.
13) though commendable, the efforts by the governments of the region towards integration for development has not paid sufficient attention to climate change and environmental conservation governance
14) we are concerned that consultation, collaboration and coordination between relevant federal and states Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) ,as well as with other stakeholders in developing Nigeria’s positions on international negotiations on climate change and sustainable development are to say the least inadequate and ineffectual
The meeting resolved as follows:
- A common regional response approach to the climate change challenge and environmental conservation is not only necessary, but also critical and imperative.
- A need for an institutionalized monitoring mechanism across the six States of the region for purposes of environmental governance;
- The need for States to aggressively embark on reliable baseline data gathering and regularly update same to enhance environmental planning, protection and preservation.
- The governments of the south western region must provide adequate funding and other resources to promote high quality research that is critical for effective mitigation, adaptation and green development.
- Governments of the region should, as a matter of urgency mainstream climate change and environmental conservation into the developmental plans of States and Local Governments in the region. This is to build resilience in systems, sectors, infrastructure and programmes in the face of climate change impacts.
- A concerted effort to regularly harness the knowledge, efforts, technologies and strategies of all the six States combating climate change and promoting sustainable development in the region.
- Efforts should be geared towards exploring opportunities to attract funds and other supports through proactive and sustainable management of the relatively rich forests resources of the region.
- Standardization of waste disposal and management systems among the six (6) States with a moratorium on refuse incineration;
- A regional afforestation strategy and the unification of tree planting initiatives of the various States to ensure that it is all done on the same day for maximum effect;
- A mechanism to monitor and ensure regular clearing and de-silting of canals, flood plains and drainages to control flooding in the region. River dredging and coast line protection must also be emphasised;
- States and Local governments in the region should lead by example by retrofitting all public buildings to become more climate-friendly as a prelude to encouraging the public to use climate friendly building materials;
- Immediate extensive review of the existing environmental laws and policies so as to develop a uniform legal and policy framework on the environment for the region;
- The governments of the Southwest should advocate for more inclusion and wider consultation in developing Nigeria’s position at international negotiations/processes on environment and sustainable development. The country should also adapt global best practice and domesticate relevant international laws for effective environmental governance;
- That deliberate efforts to inculcate positive environmental culture be promoted through inclusion in schools curricula at all levels. These include all the folksongs and other traditional forms of communicating values on environmental ethics, protection and conservation among others;
- Establishment of a Standing Expert Committee to oversee the attainment of the objectives and Recommendations;
- That the attached Follow-up Activities should be implemented as a matter of urgency.
The meeting congratulates all the participants for their massive attendance and active participation, noting that the presence of all the invited stakeholders from the six States of the region is a manifestation of collective desire to have a uniform approach and concerted effort to protect, promote, and preserve the environment as a common patrimony for the generation yet to come.
The meeting equally conveys appreciation to the Governor of the State of Osun; Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola for declaring open and attending the meeting, Political Appointees, Professors, Researchers, Civil Society Groups, Directors, Representative of the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies from the Six States of the region, all the resource persons, the media and other stakeholders for their genuine interest and passionate commitment in ensuring the success of the meeting.
In particular, the meeting acknowledges specially and commends the Deputy Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Mr. Janthomas Hiemstra for his goodwill message, personal attendance and participation at the meeting and for the UNDP for the continued interest and support in partnering with the organisers in actualising the meeting.
Dated in Osogbo, State of Osun this 26th day of September, 2012
SIGNED UNDER OUR HANDS THIS 26TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 2012.
Prof. Olubukola Oyawoye Hon. F.A Sabitu
State of Osun Ogun State
Barr. Paul Omotosho_ Rev. Adetunji Adebiyi
Ekiti State Lagos State
Mr. Abayomi Oke Mrs._Boladale Akinyanmi
Oyo State Ondo State