Buhari Outlines Key Measures to Reverse Biodiversity Loss in Nigeria

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Muhammadu Buhari

By Omololu Ogunmade

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday outlined measures by Nigeria to reverse biodiversity loss, expressing concern that most indigenous flora and fauna commonly found within the country are facing extinction.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said in a statement yesterday that Buhari made the submission in a video-message to virtual 2020 Biodiversity Summit, held on the margins of the 75th UN General Assembly, in New York.

According to Adesina, the president observed that Nigeria, like other countries, had a wide array of rich and invaluable national heritage that include an impressive network of wetlands, wildlife and forestry resources.

The president said: “Regrettably, most of the indigenous flora and fauna commonly found within the country are becoming endangered and facing extinction.

‘’To reverse this situation, we have developed the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan as an enabler for integrating biodiversity considerations into sectoral and cross-sectoral policies, plans and programmes at all levels of government.

‘’We are reviewing our biodiversity-related laws and developing shelter belts across 11 states in the country. In addressing biodiversity loss, we are implementing the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Programme in Ogoniland.

‘’The on-going clean-up is another landmark in the ecosystem restoration initiative of our administration. It is aimed at improving livelihoods of communities in the South-South Region of the country,’’ he said.

Adesina said the president told the summit convened by the President of the 75th UNGA, Ambassador Volkan Bozkir, that his administration had also approved a new national forest policy in July this year to ensure continuous socio-economic development.

Buhari explained that the new policy would provide optimal benefits to the people and government of Nigeria in a sustainably managed environment.

He added that the Nigerian government was also considering the development of a national mangrove restoration project to deliver qualitative livelihood benefits to the Niger Delta region.

‘’Furthermore, we are currently implementing a national programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, a mechanism developed by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

‘’This programme is aimed at discouraging deforestation, conserving already existing forests, enhancing carbon stock and mitigating climate change impact.

‘’We have also facilitated the designation of Finima Nature Park in Bonny Island, Rivers State as the 12th Ramsar Site of international importance.

‘’The government is equally incorporating biodiversity into tourism sector through a national programme targeted at combating illegal wildlife trade and trafficking in two pilot protected area sites, namely: Gashaka-Gumti National Park; and Yankari Games Reserve,’’ Buhari added.

According to the president, the programme to combat illegal wildlife will contribute to the growth and development of a vibrant nature-based tourism sector that prevents extinction of threatened species.

On Nigeria’s international obligations, Buhari pledged that the country would expedite the process of accession to both the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation.

He also promised that Nigeria would meet its international obligations on the Nagoya-Kuala Lampur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

He added: “Concerning ocean governance and marine biodiversity protection, Nigeria is among the first twelve countries to sign onto the 30 by 30 Global Ocean Alliance.

‘’Accordingly, we have identified two viable sites for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas to help in the protection, conservation and management of both marine and coastal biodiversity resources.

‘’Leveraging on the Strategic Action Plan of the Lake Chad Basin, Nigeria is spearheading sub-regional biodiversity action to mitigate insecurity, provide jobs, boost agricultural output, food security and reduce poverty.

‘’Towards the delivery of our biodiversity aspiration, Nigeria has concentrated on the provision of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Protocols adopted under the Convention and other relevant multilateral environmental agreements into national environmental policies and programmes,’’ he said.

Buhari also used the occasion to reiterate the call for rededicated international engagement in support of sub-regional efforts to raise the $50 billion required towards recharging the Lake Chad.

He expressed Nigeria’s support for the development and implementation of a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, building on the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and lessons learnt from the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020.

The president called for alignment of all national, sub-regional and regional biodiversity ambitions with all Internationally-Agreed development agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

‘’In order to ensure that no country is left behind in meeting the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity, Nigeria enjoins advanced economies to support developing nations with capacity building, technology transfer and technical assistance.

‘’I firmly believe that traditional knowledge, innovation and the application of nature-based solutions are plausible steps to drive the biodiversity agenda,’’ he said.