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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Lagos climate change policy underway

Bordering the Atlantic Ocean coastline in the south, Lagos State faces a considerable climate change challenge. Sea level rise (SLR) and flooding are having serious ramifications on the health and settlements of coastal populations, such as those at the Okun Alfa (Alpha Beach) community on the Lekki Peninsula.

Babatunde Fashola, Lagos State Governor
Babatunde Fashola, Lagos State Governor

Experts have estimated that 3.2 million Nigerians could be displaced from their homes by SLR, with over two million of these people living in Greater Lagos and other urban areas. Unique features of Lagos such as a high and rapidly increasing population, the flat topography, extensive coastal areas and a high water table, which in some areas of Lagos Island is less than 0.15m from the surface, are predisposing factors that further increase the state’s vulnerability to climate change impacts. Other potential climate change impacts on Lagos State include salt-water intrusion into aquifers and other fresh water sources, destruction of infrastructure by floods and storm surges, and increase in the incidences of water-borne diseases, among others.

At the same time, climate change does have opportunities that developing countries and states such as Lagos State can take advantage of. These include the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which is legislated under Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol; Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs); and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation plus (REDD+).

Existing policies, programmes, actions and measures are insufficient to address the level of risk posed by climate change. Weak technical capacity and lack of appropriate institutional framework and governance instruments particularly at the national level are additional challenges pegging climate change response in the state. They are also some of the factors for poor participation by Nigeria in climate change opportunities such as the CDM.

It is against this back drop that the Lagos State Climate Change Policy is being developed. Stakeholders will this week to validate the draft policy document at a three-day forum at the instance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The rationale of the Policy is to guide the state and other stakeholders on the implementation of collective measures to address climate change impacts and causes through adaptation, mitigation and other measures, while assuring sustainable socio-economic development through harmonised and coordinated strategies, programmes and actions to combat climate change.

The Policy provides an integrated, harmonised and multi-sectoral framework for responding to climate change in Lagos State through adaptation, mitigation and other measures collectively referred to as “cross-cutting measures”. Some of the cross-cutting measures include education and training, research and development, technology development and transfer, finance, and mainstreaming and governance. Putting into consideration the differentiated impacts of climate change on different segments of the society, and the differentiated roles of women, men, youth, and the physically challenged, gender and other social perspectives have, according to the promoters, also been considered in the Policy.

Primary priority areas of this Policy, they disclosed, are climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, which will be supported by capacity building areas and pillars such as finance; technology development and transfer; education, training and public awareness; and information and knowledge management systems.

Climate change mitigation is said to be a secondary priority of the Policy. It was gathered that, regarding mitigation, the Policy recommends the implementation of measures that meet sustainable development needs of the state.

Climate change impacts on nearly all sectors of the economy but mostly on energy, water, agriculture and food security, biodiversity and ecosystem services (wetlands, coastal and marine ecosystems, forests, wildlife, and tourism), human health, land use and soil, industry, human settlements, transport and other infrastructure. In this context, the Policy recognises the critical need for the development and implementation of integrated adaptation and mitigation projects to secure sustainable development of the State.

It is also aligned with the National Communications (NCs), which Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) use to communicate their status of implementing the UNFCCC related to vulnerability and adaptation, national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories by source and removal by carbon sinks, and potential mitigation actions. Nigeria submitted its initial National Communication to the UNFCCC Secretariat in November, 2003.

The Policy complements various international conventions, treaties and protocols on environment and natural resources. In particular, the Policy is in line with the United UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol (KP) as well as other key Conference of the Parties (COP) decisions such as the Cancun Agreements (COP 16) and the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (COP 17). The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to, according to the UN, “achieve stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”.

Other related Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) linked to the Policy that Nigeria is a Party to and affect Lagos State, include: the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITIES); the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat; the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs); the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer; the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; and the Basel Convention on Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, among others.

The Ministry of Environment (MoE) of the Lagos State Government will be responsible for the implementation of the Policy, working in close collaboration with other key line ministries. The Policy recommends that various implementation instruments be developed for its operationalisation. These include an elaborate State Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan.

The Climate Change Department within the MoE shall coordinate and manage the implementation of the Policy so as to enhance synergies and minimise duplication of efforts.  It shall work jointly with existing relevant state and national governments’ agencies, departments and institutions as well as other agencies, departments and institutions that may be established in the implementation of the Policy. As a coordinating institution, the Climate Change Department shall be vested inter alia with mandates to design climate change strategies and plans, design relevant projects, promote the introduction of climate change in education curriculum, and initiate relevant climate change capacity building projects.

Besides establishing a state climate change governance framework to coordinate and harmonise the implementation of state-level climate change activities and initiatives, the Policy aims to identify priority adaptation action areas and roles of the state and other stakeholders to address climate change.

It will also identify priority mitigation action areas, while taking into account that poverty eradication and economic development are the overriding priorities of the state, and the roles of the state and other stakeholders to address climate change.

Apart from upholding capacity building efforts through education and training; public awareness; research and development; technology development and transfer; and information and knowledge management, the Policy will also promote climate change research and observations through monitoring, detection, attribution and model prediction to enhance climate change preparedness and disaster risk management.

State officials disclosed that a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework shall be developed as an integral component of the Policy implementation to ensure that Policy goal and objectives are achieved and priority actions are implemented in a cost-effective, coordinated and harmonised approach. The Climate Change Department in the MoE will develop tools and guidelines for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Policy.

Finally, the Policy will be reviewed every three years to take into account emerging issues, challenges, and trends on climate change at the local, national, sub-regional, regional and global levels including the dynamic international climate change policy debate.

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