By Fadekemi Ajakaiye
There is an increasing concern on the devastating rate of nature degradation and loss of biodiversity, industry stakeholders said recently.
They insisted that while President Buhari among other 83 heads of governments across the globe have pledged to reverse loss of biodiversity through the global ‘Leaders Pledge for Nature’ initiative, there is the need to put those commitment to action.
Africa’s biodiversity has been under intense pressure over depletion by persistent encroachment of human activities such as industrialisation; urbanisation; pressure due to rapid population; unsustainable agricultural practice; among other anthropogenic activities.
The International Support Network for African Development (ISNAD-Africa)’s Africa4Nature Health Initiative being implemented in partnership with the global conservation giant, the Word Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), advocated on the need for governments in Africa to step up on their commitments towards nature conservation and addressing increasing emergence of zoonotic diseases.
Reportedly, Nigeria is unfortunately rated number 34 globally in terms of biodiversity loss, partly because its forestry cover was far below the world minimal. Instead of 25 per cent world minimum, Nigeria is at six per cent.
The commitment of the 13 African countries to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 expressed in the Leaders pledge for Nature initiative will not yield the intended result without putting the commitments to action, Founder and Executive Director, ISNAD-Africa, Adedoyin Adeleke said in a statement.
According to him, there was urgent need for Nigeria and other African countries to avert looming climate change disaster as human health and economic catastrophe associated with negligence of nature wreck further devastation considering the impacts of the diseases such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Ebola viruses.
Adeleke emphasised the need to integrate environmental pillar in all sectors of the African economy, adding that an integrated policy and implementation approach is required to achieve sustainable development post COVID-19. This underpinned the need to link public health, pollution abatement, climate action, biodiversity conservation, ecosystems integrity, socio-economic equity, and prosperity for a green and just recovery from COVID-19 pandemic in Africa.
“This will also foster improvement in climate resilience and restoration of the continent,” he said.
With the level of economic loses and the impacts on developing countries like Nigeria, Adeleke noted that deploying economic recovery plans without commensurate integration of the environmental dimension in building back post-COVID19 would be laying foundation blocks for future pandemics among other environmental challenges.
Speaking about a campaign; the New Deal for Nature and Africa4Health Initiative implemented by the organisation in partnership with the WWF, Adeleke harped on the importance of awareness and engagement to ensure that policy makers take decisive decisions to address projected backlashes from the current pandemic.
“This highlights the need for a holistic approach in developing the post-COVD19 recovery plans. The variance in the economic perspective of post-COVID-19 recovery plans of African governments and the need for a green and just post-COVID-19 recovery plans necessitate raising public awareness and engagement with relevant stakeholder to support and push the African governments to commit to a green and just post-COVID19 recovery plan,” he said.