A not-for-profit-making organisation in Nigeria, Sterling One Foundation and the British Deputy High Commission have decried the rising effects of climate change in the country, including flooding and drought, urging all stakeholders to rise against these crises by taking sustained actions.
The Chief Executive Officer, Sterling One Foundation, Olapeju Ibekwe, lamented that thousands of people had been displaced in Kogi, Anambra, Bayelsa and other parts of the country as homes, farms and business investments were ravaged by floods.
Recently, communities in eight local government areas in Anambra State were completely submerged by flood, with about 76 people recovered dead.
More than 600 deaths have been recorded in 2022 so far due to flooding, according to National Emergency Management Agency while over 1.4m people were affected and 808,000 persons displaced.
“As partners and stakeholders, how do we respond to the rising incidences of flooding, heatwave, shortage of water, deforestation and other consequences of Climate Change?” Ibekwe posed during a media dialogue on climate action held in Lagos recently in commemoration of the International Day of Climate Action marked on every October 24.
“The International Day of Climate Action is a notable day globally for us to take stock of progress achieved and appraise the rest of the journey with a view to defining the most effective next steps to achieve the global goal of cutting emissions and going green,” she added.
Ibekwe noted that as the world recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, a greater pandemic with multi-dimensional impacts and life changing implications is inherent in climate change.
Citing the State of the Climate in Africa 2020 report, which warned of the continent’s disproportionate vulnerability and estimated that by 2030, up to 118 million extremely poor Africans would be exposed to drought, floods, and extreme heat, Ibekwe emphasised the need for all stakeholders in Nigeria to take actions and turn climate crises to economic opportunities.
She said, “The report estimates that the investment in climate adaptation for sub-Saharan Africa would cost between $30 to $50 billion each year over the next decade, or roughly two to three per cent of GDP – enough to spark job opportunities and economic development while prioritizing a sustainable and green recovery.
“As stakeholders embark on the Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs, people and organizations are an essential part of the intrinsic system to be transformed, and hence are critical partners in the solution design and implementation. Interestingly, we can only succeed if everyone plays their part.
“There has never been a more urgent need to revive damaged ecosystems than now and we need urgent action to address these pressing issues. We must shift from harming the planet to healing it.
“Unfortunately, in Nigeria, we still experience ignorance, apathy, carelessness, and lack of sustained commitment when it comes to issues and conversations around climate action.
“The role of the media in communicating this effectively, breaking down the implications to all levels of government and society, especially setting the agenda and driving much needed action across all realms in the society is critical, hence this timely dialogue.
“Time is running out, and nature is in emergency mode. To keep global warming below 1.5°C this century, we must halve annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Without action, exposure to air pollution beyond safe guidelines will increase by 50 per cent within the decade and plastic waste flowing into aquatic ecosystems will nearly triple by 2040.”
She said Sterling One Foundation had executed various initiatives to provide advocacy, reduce plastic pollution, support capacity building, promote partnerships and collaborations to ensure a safer environment for Nigerians.
Ibekwe also said the foundation had adopted four beaches in Lagos by providing equipment and remuneration for the youth in these coastline communities to ensure they clean the beaches at least thrice weekly while recycling the plastic.
She added, “This keeps plastic from entering the oceans and contaminating a major source of protein for humans; fish, while increasing economic activity and job creation. We recently confirmed the adoption of a new beach, llashe beach, which will support evacuation of plastic waste from 3 different African countries which have their waste settled at this location.
“At the Foundation, we have a vision to plant 200 million trees before 2030 with our partners and we will be starting this year by planting 10,000 economic trees across the six geo-political zones in partnership with the Unity Schools and Green Sahara Farms.
“We will establish tree planting clubs in partnership with the school’s alumni association to groom these trees while supporting nurseries to birth more trees at the schools. The trees will also be geo-located, covering every part of the country.
“Also, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Environment and other partners, we are set to launch the annual National Sustainability Week to further drive nationwide awareness in our schools and other parts of society on climate action.”
In his remarks, the British Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. Ben Llewellyn Jones, described climate change as an urgent and potentially irreversible threat, noting that the world is in a critical moment for the future of our planet with rising temperatures raging storms and flooding across the world.
He said, “Considering the impact of climate change and of course COVID-19, building back a fairer, greener and more resilient recovery and safer economy should be a big priority of all governments and gatekeepers across the globe, including the United Kingdom and Nigeria.
“Nigeria contributes c.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions but it is among the top 10 of world’s most climate vulnerable countries. Coastal states face extensive risks from storm surges, with inland flooding and pollution prevalent in the Niger Delta region; gully erosions in the southeast, and chronic aridity and riverine flooding in the North.
“The middle-belt is at risk to aridity, compounded by high-tensions between farmers and pastoralists (land rights, water access). Key sectors impacted by climate change in Nigeria are agriculture, water and health sectors. 70% of the population rely on climate-dependent resources. Just about 55% of the 200m+ population have access to electricity. Fuel wood and charcoal are the major sources of energy for the rural population.”
With Nigeria’s population set to double to 400 million by 2050, the British envoy said there will be increased pressure on natural resources (resulting in conflicts) and emissions profile )as well as flooding if actions to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change in the country were not taken.
He added, “The impact of climate change without action could cost between 6% and 30% of Nigeria’s GDP by 2050. COP26 which the UK hosted in Glasgow in November 2021 concluded with 197 parties agreeing the Glasgow Climate Pact, reaching consensus on the need for urgent climate action.
“We must urgently work together to accelerate the shift to clean power generation, including increased solar, wind deployment and greater energy efficiency, which are the most effective route to climate and energy security, and long-term prosperity.
“The media must also take up its responsibility as gatekeepers and the fourth estate of the realm to advocate for and educate every Nigeria on the importance of climate action.”
The Managing Director of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority, Ibrahim Adejuwon Odumboni, called for attitudinal change by all and sundry to ensure clean and healthy environment.