NCF, Rivers University Confab Advocates Database on Marine, Coastal Biodiversity

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Bennett Oghifo

Participants at a roundtable organised by Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) and the Rivers State University of Science and Technology have recommended the creation of a pooled database on marine and coastal biodiversity.

The also said there was a need to identify biodiversity hotspots and migratory pathways suitable for the creation of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas in Nigeria, as well as identify other Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in the marine and coastal habitat.

The pooled database on marine and coastal biodiversity, participants said should incorporate existing data from the Universities (including PhD theses), Federal Ministry of Environment and Corporate Organisations (including EIA reports), Development Agencies (including World Bank-WACA, Gulf of Guinea LME), NIOMR, etc.

The roundtable, held at the Amphitheatre of the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt recently, had 42 participants drawn from academia, government ministries and agencies at states and federal levels, the private sector, the press, the parliament and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

They recommended the establishment of Marine Biological Stations in all coastal states and a National Marine Wildlife Reserve Institute; study of marine post-graduate programmes in all Universities within coastal states; make the study of taxonomy attractive to researchers and students by rebranding it as Bioinformatics such as happened when Zoology was rebranded to become Animal & Environmental Biology; and to establish training courses for law enforcement agencies.

On policy, they urge the government to urgently create marine national park/s, as well as marine reserves at states level; identify and address the many instances of overlapping policies and functions of agencies through gap analysis and consultation with relevant stakeholders; ensure strong implementation of international laws and treaties; sensitise stakeholders from policy makers to local communities on the importance of the marine environment by organising a yearly summit for professionals and another summit for all stakeholders.

Government, they said should promote new funding windows and seek funding for research and field projects from regional, national and international sources; and promote Bill of Rights for Nature.

Meanwhile, the NCF, in collaboration with Population Matters, a UK-based charity, and with support from the Lagos State Government will host the World Population Day event, tagged ‘Population and Sustainability in Nigeria and beyond’.

“It is our belief that unsustainable population is a global problem which must be addressed in both developed world countries, where population growth may be low but consumption and global environmental impacts are high, and in countries of the Global South where global impact is low but population growth may be high. Therefore, the campaign is to achieve a sustainable human population, to protect the natural world and improve people’s lives,” NCF said in a statement.

The aim of this event is to create awareness and generate public discuss that will address both global population and the impacts of growth in Nigeria; interfacing with stakeholders in examining local solutions; examining how Nigeria can contribute towards international policy initiatives to address unsustainable population.

According to the United Nations, by 2050 the global population will be 9.7bn and the Nigerian population more than 400m. By the middle of the century, Nigeria will overtake the US as the world’s third most populous country. These figures are the UN’s main, medium variant, projections. With 95% certainty, it projects a global population in the range between 9.4 and 10.1 billion in 2050, and between 9.4 and 12.7 billion in 2100 (with a medium projection of 10.9bn).

However, if global fertility rates differ by half-a-child per woman than the medium projection, global population will be significantly different. With half-a-child less, there would be 8.9bn by 2050 and decline to 7.3bn people by 2100 – a smaller population than today. Conversely, with half-a-child more than the median projection, there would be 10.6bn by 2050 and as many as 15.6bn by 2100. Future population is thus extremely dependent on the actions taken to address fertility and these projections should not be taken as predictions.

The event will be taking place on Thursday, 11th July 2019 at Lekki Conservation Foundation at 9am.

Expected to speak at this maiden edition are Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Governor; Barrister Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin, Hon Federal Commissioner, National Population Commission; Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director General, Nigerian Conservation Foundation; Mr. Robin Maynard, Director, Population Matters, UK; Mrs. Temitope Okunnu, CEO, Foundation for a Better Environment (FABE); Mr. Abiodun Bamgboye, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of the Environment; and Mrs. Flora Adamma Oni, Director Tourism, Lagos State Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Others expected to be in attendance are students of Tertiary Institutions in Lagos, NCF corporate and individual members and the media.