Laws To Protect Our Ecosystem Must Be Put In Place – Ex-FIDA President
By Joseph Kanjo
The need for the government to urgently declare a state of emergency for Ecosystem Restoration (SEER) inorder to preserve the ecosystem and its services has been emphasised.
The Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, made the submission in a speech titled ‘A State of Environmental Emergency for Ecosystem Restoration’ delivered on Tuesday in Benin City, Edo State, during an event to mark the 2021 World Environment Day.
According to him, SEEER was informed by the need for national environmental emergency to raise awareness and restore living in harmony with nature.
Dr Ojo, while underlining the need to embark on some radical and deep transformation in global production and consumption patterns, said it requires concerted actions at local, national, and international levels focused on a pragmatic shift towards a sustainable development pathway before it is too late.
“For decades, scientific evidence show that the impacts and pressures of our productive activities related to our addictive dependence on mining and fossil fuels extraction, extensive livestock farming, industrial agriculture, gigantic infrastructure, fisheries, forestry hence these harmful activities require a roll back,” said Dr Ojo.
While listing the benefits of ecosystem restoration, he emphasised that restoring the ecosystem protects and improves the livelihoods of millions of people and maintains the earth’s biological diversity.
He added that healthier ecosystems enhance richer biodiversity, yielding greater benefits such as more fertile soils, bigger yields of timber and fish.
“Humans depend on the rich biodiversity for food, water, energy, medicine, clothes, building and construction materials and an enhanced capacity to store greenhouse gases from the atmosphere,” he said.
According to Dr Ojo, a roadmap towards identifying and setting targets and indicators to measuring Nigeria’s commitment to the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration is urgently required.
He stressed that Nigeria must focus on restoring the major ecosystems facing collapse by urgently developing a national 10-year Ecosystem Restoration Roadmap, set targets and timelines in consonance with the United Nations plans.
He added that government, corporations and relevant agencies must show in clear terms their SEER goal and how they intend to slow down the rate of deforestation in the next 10 years, just as he added that the government must be committed to energy transition from its addition to fossil fuels to renewable energy sources to reduce the rate of environmental degradation and ecosystem disturbance.
“Government should ensure that Shell and other oil multinationals that have been divesting from their ruinous onshore operations are made to pay for any damage caused by their operations to the ecosystem before they are allowed to operate the offshore facilities.
“Enhance the implementation of the Great Green Wall project in the northern part of the country to stop the advance of the Sahara Desert,” he submitted.
Also speaking, Prof Gideon Emelue of the University of Benin who happens to be the Guest Speaker said, the essence of ecosystem is to give human a livelihood but unfortunately in Nigeria reverse is the case.
He noted that in a standard, a country should have 25% forest covered but unfortunately it is far below that in Nigeria, lamenting that all the trees that ought to serve as cover are being cute down on daily basis.
While Advocating for tree planning and wood logging, the ecosystem expert said in actualising this, religious leaders, traditional rulers and other stakeholders must be all involved.
On her part, Stella Ojeme, Esq, said laws that protect the ecosystem must be put in place to preserve the ecosystem.
The former president, Federation Of Women Lawyers (FIDA) added that restoration of the ecosystem is everyone’s business hence there was the need to create a regorious awareness, saying “All stakeholders in our different communities must be involved.”