The Ogun State Forest Landscape Restoration Project was presented on 7th December 2015 to the international community at the UN Climate Change Climate Conference (COP21) that held recently in Paris, following the memorandum of understanding signed in September 2015 by the Ogun State Government (Ogun State), the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and Lafarge Africa Plc.
The PPP project will transform 108,000 hectares of degraded land in Ogun State into an arable green area through a Forest Landscape Restoration project aimed at launching public and private agroforestry projects with strong environmental, social and economic impact. It is a pioneering initiative demonstrating how proactive public entities can join forces with a private group to launch sustainable projects that will position Nigeria as a leader in Africa on sustainable Climate Change PPP projects.
With the theme “Regional public/private partnership initiative against climate”, a two-day side event held at the green climate generations’ areas of the COP 21 venue to showcase the public/private partnership concept as a tool for development, and to present the planned project to potential investors, development agencies, as well as Green and Climate Change funds.
The Ogun State Forest Landscape Restoration project partners led by the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, was also hosted at an event, which is dedicated to local and regional government, raising ambition, awareness and visibility of real and potential local climate action. Membership of the Senator Schwarzenegger “Regions of Climate Action” (R20) Organisation was conferred on Ogun State at the occasion.
Other dignitaries from the partnering institutions at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference include Mr. Peter Hoddinott, Area Manager South & West Africa LafargeHolcim; Mrs. Adepeju Adebajo, CEO Cement, Lafarge Africa Plc; Richard Eckrich, Head, Infrastructure Fund, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority; and Dr. Henry Neufeldt, Head, Climatic Change Unit of the World Agroforestry Centre.
Commenting on the Ogun State’s participation at the Climate Conference, Governor Amosun said: “The Forest Landscape Restoration project is a well thought initiative, in partnership with two responsible institutions, NSIA and Lafarge Africa.”
He noted that almost 70% of Ogun State is arable land. There is therefore a significant potential for improving lives and livelihoods. Governor Amosun described the agroforestry project as a win-win opportunity for companies and citizens, offering a range of benefits: it will reduce CO2 emissions by increasing vegetation and eliminating the current negative slash-and-burn practices; it will create employment for young graduates and will help to diversify Nigeria’s economy. Governor Amosun insisted on the absolute importance to address simultaneously, the short-term job creation necessity while preparing the climate change mitigation long-term challenge.
Commenting on its commitment to the realisation of the project, Mr. Peter Hoddinott, who is also the Group Managing Director/CEO Lafarge Africa Plc, said: “As a responsible organisation, we are working to minimise the impact of our activity on the climate. Lafarge Africa plans to replace 30% of its fuel use from fossil to biomass by 2020. We need to put in place a solid structure to move into renewable energy, which is clearly what this partnership offers.”
Speaking at the event on behalf of Mr. Uche Orji, MD/CEO of NSIA, Richard Eckrich, said: “The NSIA recognises the importance of agriculture to the economy; a sector which employs around 70% of Nigeria’s population. We are therefore committed to supporting this initiative by helping to raise funds and leveraging our expertise in public-private-partnerships, in particular in terms of establishing a “best in class” project governance to enhance the scheme”.
Eckrich further stated that NSIA’s intervention is consistent with its strategy and echoed Hoddinott’s hope that the project could be replicated if successful.