Felix Ikem, Nsukka
Management of climate change in post COVID-19 Nigeria was at the front burner as environmental experts from different parts of the world dialogued on policy options for Nigeria in developing low-carbon resilient climate.
The webinar dialogue, held on Friday was under the auspices of the Resource and Environmental Policy Research Centre (REPRC), University of Nigeria Nsukka, (UNN) Environment for Development (EfD) Nigeria, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In her opening remarks, the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor said that the dialogue, tagged “Managing Climate Change in Post COVID-19 Nigeria: Policy Options for Low-carbon Climate Resilient Development” was apt and that it came at a time the Nigerian government was working towards meeting its obligations with the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) as pledged in the Paris agreement of 2016.
She said that part of the government’s efforts at achieving the NDC obligation included; issuing of green bonds in December 2017, large scale installation of solar power and the target towards ending gas flaring in 2030 with the approval of gas flare prevention and waste pollution regulation in 2018.
The minister said that although the government’s efforts towards achieving its NDC mandate was hampered by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, she was optimistic that the outcome of the dialogue would support the ministry’s effort at revising the NDC and fine-tune post COVID-19 economic sustainability plan of the Federal government.
The Vice-Chancellor of UNN, Prof Charles Igwe, in his remarks, harped on the need to develop actionable policy directions that would guide environmental issues in Nigeria. He said the University of Nigeria was keen on helping Nigeria build a safe environment during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That is why we established the Resource and Environmental Policy Research Centre to provide policy direction through quality researches”, Igwe, who was represented by the DVC Administration, Prof Pat Okpoko said.
The Vice-Chancellor added that the university, through its Faculty of Environmental Sciences and other centres was open to partner with national and internal bodies to achieve a green environment for the country.
The UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Lealem Berhanu Dinku said that the UNDP was committed to assisting the government of Nigeria recover from the impact of COVID-19, through the development of appropriate recovery plan which would focus on governance, social protection, green economy and digital disruption.
While congratulating the Minister of Environment on the approval of National Action Plan on Gender and Climate Change by the Federal Executive Council, Dinku said the UNDP would support the implementation of the plan which he hoped would lead to a green economy future for Nigeria
Speaking on Financing Low-carbon Climate Resilient Development Path in Post CoVID-19 Nigeria, Professor Thomas Sterner, of the Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, said that climate change was a major threat to the development of Nigeria’s economy because its major source of revenue, oil, has high sensitivity to climate change with attendant volatile revenue. He opined that Subsidy on petroleum products should be reduced to make more funds available for the implementation of green growth development plan in the country.
The Director, Environment for Development (EfD) Initiative, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Dr Gunnar Kohlin supported the call for a Green Growth Plan for Nigeria. He however stated that Nigeria needed a consistent credible green growth strategy to attract low-carbon financing. He maintained that the transition to sustainable green environment would be knowledge intensive and therefore required investment in new generation of leaders that would drive the transformation through research and development.
In his presentation on “Impact of COVID-19 on Climate Policy and Policy Options to facilitate Low-Carbon Climate Development in Post-COVID-19 Nigeria”, the Senior Director, African Development Institute, African Development Bank Group, Abidjan, Prof Kevin Urama said that prior to COVID-19, Nigeria lacked the institutional capacity to adapt to climate change because of its reliance on volatile oil revenue.
“Oil revenue does not provide platform for government to plan well” he said while recommending that the Nigerian government should focus on more stable sources of revenue including climate smart agriculture and education.
Speaking on “Climate Change in Nigeria and Government’s Actions Towards Mitigation and Adaption”, Professor Emmanuel Oladipo said that Climate Change was part of global development and that ‘its reality cannot be denied regardless of different beliefs”.
Professor Oladipo said that projections had shown that If global warming continues and the global sea level raises to about 1 meter, about 75 percent of the population of Niger Delta would be emerged in water and many parts of Nigeria will witness high degree of dryness.
He urged the government to pay attention to the issue of climate change, otherwise other aspects of developments which are currently pursued would be wasted in the future.
The Director, Resource and Environmental Policy Research Centre (REPRC), Environment for Development (EfD) Nigeria, Dr Nnaemeka Chukwuone said that recommendations made at the dialogue would be articulated into a policy document that would be sent to the Ministry of Environment for further actions.
Dr Chukwuone said that the REPRC which focuses on research, policy advocacy and capacity building would continue to collaborate with the Ministry of Environment and other international organizations to help Nigeria achieve its mandate on green and clean environment.
Other panelists who spoke at the webinar that attracted over 100 participants included: Former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Prof Benjamin Ozumba; the Director, Centre for Climate Change and Development, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke; Director, Climate Change, Federal Ministry of Environment, Dr Yerima Peter Tarfa; Vice-Chancellor, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Prof Chinedu Nwajiuba and the Director Gender and Development Centre, University of Nigeria, Prof. Anthonia Achike.
Others included the Director, Centre for Research on the Economics of Climate, Food, Energy and Environment (CECFEE), India, Prof Eswaran Somantan and the Regional Technical Specialist-Climate Change Adaptation Nature, Climate and Energy Bureau for policy and Programme support, Addis Ababa, Dr Muyeye Chambwera.