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… Calls for scale-up conservation efforts

Minister of Environment, Ms Sharon Ikeazor has said the global loss of biodiversity is threatening the security of the world’s food supplies and the livelihoods of millions of people including indigenous people and local communities, especially in the African region.

Ikeazor disclosed this at the 33rd Session of the International Coordinating Council of the Man and Biosphere Programme, MAB-ICC.

Nigerian Pilot gathered that The MAB Programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme launched in 1971 by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environment. This is the first time that MAB-ICC is being held on the African Continent since its inception.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the opening ceremony of the UNESCO MAB-ICC programme, the Minister said that it is not too late to reverse the current trends of loss of biodiversity if conservation efforts are scaled up and protected areas are expanded.

Ikeazor reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to reverse biodiversity loss and to mitigate climate change.

“Through the Ministry of Environment, Nigeria joined the Global Ocean Alliance and the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People calling for the protection of 30% of world’s lands and seas by 2030, to halt the accelerating loss of species and protect vital ecosystems.

 Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari also recently approved the establishment of ten new additional National Parks across the ecological zones of the country two of which will be designated Marine Protected Areas.

“Other notable measures taken by Nigeria in this respect are the issuance of Sovereign Green Bonds to assist Nigeria in meeting her Nationally Determined contributions, NDCs, targets and facilitate our transition to a low carbon pathway. Various reforestation programmers have been initiated under the National Afforestation Programme,NAP, of the Federal Ministry of Environment. All these measures are aimed at ensuring a resilient future for the Country,” she explained.

Speaking further, the minister said, “In the area of conservation, prior to the year 2020, Nigeria had only one Biosphere Reserve, which was the Omo Biosphere Reserve in Ogun State. In line with its conservation policy, Nigeria identified and processed more protected areas and with the approval of UNESCO, secured three more Biosphere Reserves namely: (a) Oban Biosphere Reserve; (b) Okwango Biosphere Reserve, both in Cross Rivers State; and (c) Hadejia-Nguru-Bade Biosphere Reserve, straddling Yobe and Jigawa States.”

In her own speech, the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, said that biodiversity is collapsing due to a lifestyle that is putting pressure on the natural world, adding that climate and biodiversity are inextricably linked and when one suffers, the other does too.

She therefore advised that people must therefore heed the wisdom of the Chinua Achebe who said, “When we stand on this Earth, we must ‘go with her at her pace.”

“We have less than 10 years to achieve the goal that the United Nations wishes to set, for 30% [thirty per cent] of the planet to be covered by protected areas. Therefore, we must double our efforts,” she said.

Also, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon called for bold interdependent actions are needed across several fronts to address and remove drivers of biodiversity loss.

Kallon commended the effort of UNESCO in establishing the Man and the Biosphere Programme, which connects all governments of its member states, including Nigeria, to use integrated and holistic approaches for improving human livelihoods and safeguarding natural resources and ecosystems in a sustainable manner.

He revealed that the UN System is implementing a number of activities geared towards protecting the ecosystem and biodiversity of Nigeria, as well as addressing the consequences orchestrated by Covid-19 and climate change amongst others.


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