Former Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede has appealed to business leaders, investors and heads of government on the urgency to collectively fight for the preservation of biodiversity of the planet at the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly. The high-level virtual summit was organised by Volkan Bozkir to support the first United Nations Summit on Biodiversity at the level of heads of state and government had as its theme: “Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development.”
According to a statement, speaking as the sole African non-state actor at the summit, the Nigerian investor made a case for sustainable business practices and public-private partnerships (PPPs) to support biodiversity.
He stated that the loss of biodiversity was not only an environmental issue, but also a developmental, economic, health, security and moral one.
The United Nations revealed that biodiversity was declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, with growing impacts on people and our planet and Africa is no exception.
Bringing this home to Africa, Aig-Imoukhuede noted that, “Africa is immensely rich in biodiversity and yet by the end of this century, Africa could lose up to 30 percent of its entire animal and plant species as a result of excessive exploitation, unsustainable industrialisation, deforestation, pollution and many harmful human activities.”
In 2012, Aig-Imoukhuede was instrumental to Nigerian banks and the central bank adopting of the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles.
He also made a business case for private sector activism, stating that: “biodiversity provides annual benefits valued at approximately $120 trillion– more than the entire world economy. In contrast, the global financing needs for achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity is less than one per cent of its annual economic benefits.
“It is the moral duty of every leader in the world who enjoys the privilege of responsibility to join the fight to save our planet.
“Governments have a key role in enacting policies and programmes to protect and restore the Earth’s ecosystems, including establishing incentives to encourage sustainable business practices as well as sustainable investments,” the philanthropist added.
“However, the fight to save our biodiversity conservation should not be left to government alone, it requires multi-faceted global efforts and collaborations by all stakeholders including the private sector, especially corporate leaders and executives,” he added.
There is increased urgency to demonstrate leadership and commitment to improve our relationship with nature. “The appearance of COVID-19 has shown that when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life. If we continue at our current rate, the loss of biodiversity will undermine progress towards achieving 80% of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The summit was to galvanise urgent action to protect biodiversity, and to build political momentum and raise ambitions for the development of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, to be adopted in 2021.