From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on the federal government to set up a special fund for the restoration of the ecosystem in the country.
The group said that the restoration of the Niger Delta environment, in particular, from further degradation and stopping desert encroachment in the North are urgent tasks that must be done.
ERA/FoEN Director Programme and Administration Mike Karikpo said as the United Nations has set aside 2021-2030 as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, Nigeria must also be committed to restoring the nation’s environment.
Karikpo said without concerted actions to preserve, restore and enhance the viability of ecosystems, the capacity to make progress in critical areas like education, health and employment would be greatly compromised.
The Director of Programme and Administration said funds for ecosystem restoration should be in the region of $200 billion so that within the next 10 years, the Niger Delta environment can be restored and within 30 years, host communities are not left to bear the burden of a degraded environment.
He emphasised that the country must act now to save the environment and save lives, urging the government at all levels to place priority on preserving the environment.
Karikpo said: ‘The Nigerian state, (local, state, and national) should put in place clear policies and regulations that would ensure the sustainability of our ecosystems in line with the United Nations policies on ecosystem restoration by setting achievable targets tor implementation.
‘Ecosystem restoration work should focus on addressing the actual sources of environmental degradation so that the removal mechanism does not become business as usual in the continuation of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere.
‘End gas flaring now to restore Niger Delta ecosystems. Commit to energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources to reduce the rate of environmental degradation and ecosystem disturbance.
‘There is desert encroachment in the North, Lake Chad is almost drying up. We must also ensure that the grasslands and the savannah in the North are restored.’
ERA/FOEN further called for the urgent restoration of the polluted Ogoniland ecosystems and the entire Niger Delta region ecosystem within the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.
‘The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will be a mirage unless concerted and genuine effort is made to provide finance and set targets to reduce the rate of deforestation and ecosystems disturbance by the number and scope of ecosystem restored, improved biodiversity and ecosystem resilience tor the health of Mother Earth and wellbeing of people.’
For his part, Dr Godwin Ojo, Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, explained the benefits of a restored ecosystem to the country.
He said: ‘Restoration of the ecosystem will enhance biodiversity, clean polluted rivers and contaminated soil and improve local livelihoods of our people.
‘Ecosystem restoration will enhance the capacity of our soils and forests to store greenhouse gases rather than the false solution of carbon capture and storage facilities that do not cut emissions at source and poses grave danger to ecosystems.
‘The crucial challenge requires a post-petroleum economy through a deep transformation in global production and consumption patterns. Therefore, ecosystem restoration requires concerted actions at local, national and international levels focusing on a pragmatic shift towards a sustainable decarbonized development pathway before it is too late.’