By Rose Audu
The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, while delivering her speech at the opening ceremony of the 33rd Session of the UNESCO International Coordinating Council of the Man and Biosphere Programme (MABICC), lauded the efforts of President Mohammadu Buhari for giving his approval for the programme to be hosted by Nigeria.
Ikeazor said “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.
According to IKeazor “the MAB programme presents a unique platform for cooperation on research and development, ecological restoration, capacity building and networking to share information, knowledge and experience on three interlinked issues: biodiversity loss, climate change and sustainable development.”
“The World is facing a planetary crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss,” she said.
The global loss of biodiversity is threatening the security of the world’s food supplies and the livelihoods of millions of people including local communities especially in the African region.
Ikeazor further reiterated the commitment of Nigeria, and the Environment Ministry to relentlessly play its role to safeguard the environment for future generations and with the support of partners like UNESCO.
According to then Minister of State for environment, the country is strongly committed to taking bold steps to reverse biodiversity loss and to mitigate climate change, noting that Nigeria through the Ministry of Environment joined the Global Ocean Alliance and the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and people calling for the protection of 30% of worlds lands and seas by 2030, to halt the accelerating loss of species and protect vital ecosystems.
She said President Muhammadu Buhari had also approved the establishment of ten new additional National Parks across the ecological zones of the country, two of which will be designated Marine Protected Areas.
“Other notable measures taken by Nigeria in this respect are the issuance of Sovereign Green Bonds to assist Nigeria in meeting her Nationally Determined contributions (NDCs) targets and facilitate our transition to a low carbon pathway.
“Various reforestation programmers have been initiated under the National Afforestation Programme (NAP) of the Federal Ministry of Environment,” Ikeazor added.
The measures according to her were aimed at ensuring a resilient future for the Country.
In the area of conservation, Ikeazor said, ”Nigeria had only one Biosphere Reserve, which was the Omo Biosphere Reserve in Ogun State”.
In line with its conservation policy, Nigeria identified and processed more protected areas and with the approval of UNESCO, secured three more Biosphere Reserves namely: (a) Oban Biosphere Reserve; (b) Okwango Biosphere Reserve, both in Cross Rivers State; and (c) Hadejia-Nguru-Bade Biosphere Reserve, straddling Yobe and Jigawa States.
“The designation of these Biosphere Reserves is geared towards reversing various ecological changes and disruption caused by the removal of flora species, displacement of fauna species and alternation of the natural ecosystem, while at the same time enhancing the livelihoods of the indigenous communities in a sustainable manner.
“The Biosphere Reserves are expected to positively impact not only the environment, but also on social, economic and cultural aspects, especially peoples’ welfare.
“This commendable agenda is critical to fostering harmonious integration of people and nature for sustainable development through participatory dialogue, knowledge sharing, poverty reduction and human wellbeing improvements, respect for cultural values and society’s ability to cope with change.
“The MAB programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme launched in 1971 by UNESCO that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environment,” she said.