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World Environment Day: ERA/FoEN seeks emergency to restore degraded ecosystem

The Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, has underlined the need for a State of Environmental Emergency for Ecosystem Restoration (SEEER) to preserve ecosystem and its services.

ERA/FoEN
Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo in a group photograph with participants at the ERA/FoEN’s event marking the 2021 World Environment Day held in Benin City

Dr Ojo made the submission in a speech titled “A State of Environmental Emergency for Ecosystem Restoration” delivered in Benin City, Edo State, on Tuesday, June 8 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.

In a release issued in Benin City and signed by Nosa Tokunbor, Legal Officer, ERA/FoEN, Dr Ojo underlined the need to embark on some radical and deep transformation in global production and consumption patterns. He said that 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.

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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 toward identifying and setting targets and indicators to measuring Nigeria’s commitment to the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration is urgently required.

Nigeria, he stressed, should 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. 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.
  • Ensuring that the wetland ecosystem and the grassland ecosystem should form the key priorities of ecosystems restoration by the federal, state and local governments.
  • Commiting to energy transition from its addition to fossil fuels to renewable energy sources to reduce the rate of environmental degradation and ecosystem disturbance. There is the need to embrace the emerging principle of decarbonization of all processes in the present mode of production and consumption patterns that is wasteful.
  • Exercising political will, ensuring that regulatory agencies are strengthened to enforce compliance of regulations and laws to support ecosystem restoration, conservation and traditional livelihoods.
  • Setting up an ecosystem restoration fund or using a substantial part of the existing Ecological Fund to enable the decommissioning of oil and gas wells and infrastructures as well as ecosystems destroyed by mining and extractive activities. 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.
  • Enhancing the implementation of the Great Green Wall project in the northern part of the country to stop the advance of the Sahara Desert.
  • Abrogating of the current Land Use Act of 1978 which has led to dispossession and caused untold hardship to our communities.
  • Encouraging the setting up of Community Resource Centers, train communities to manage ecosystem resources and share local best practices on living in harmony with nature through community-based forests management systems that ensures environmental sustainability.
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Dr Ojo concluded, saying that the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration provides the opportunity to plan and take action for ecosystem restoration.

Therefore, he stressed, concerted and genuine effort must be made to provide the finance and set targets to reduce the rate of deforestation and ecosystems disturbance by the number and scope of ecosystems restored, improved biodiversity, ecosystem resilience, wellbeing and living in harmony with nature.

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