Ministry of Environment to partner communities on biodiversity conservation

The Federal Government has concluded arrangements aimed at involving local communities in the area of sustainable conservation of wildlife.

Already, National Park Service (NPS) has started working out modalities to create awareness and encourage the public to stop the destruction of biodiversity in the country.

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Minister of Environment, Suleiman Zarma, who revealed this during a visit to Conservator- General of NPS, Ibrahim Goni, in Abuja said discussions are ongoing to improve relationship with host communities.

He added that the government was planning building synergy with them to ensure that both are serving the same purpose and have common grounds that we need to cover.

“We have to do that arrangements, it is not an option, rather we are collaborating with stakeholders, and relevant agencies under the ministry. This is non-negotiable in order to move forward.”

Zarma explained: “ We can stop poachers from coming into the parks. It would mean spending money to train them in the act of living and protecting wildlife in their domain.

According to him, the government wanted to bring them on board, engage them to build community that could coexist with wildlife, and to contribute to preserving the environment.

On his part, NPS Conservator-General, Ibrahim Goni reiterated their plans for the preservation of wildlife, adding that they would work with local communities to conserve nature.

He noted that this would address current threats such as wildlife poaching, wild fire, and environmental degradation, and it would offer increased communities involvement in conservation.

“We have sponsored few community nurses because sometimes when the government transfers medical personnel to these areas they do not response immediately,’ he stressed.

Conservator-general argued that they are looking at conservation through sustainable farming to see how to improve farmers’ skills so that a small area of land could yield more for them.

India to host 14th UN land degradation summit

India will host the next global Conference on desertification, land degradation and drought from October 7 to 8, 2019 at the Vigyan Bhavan conference centre in New Delhi

Participants from 197 Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combact Desertification (UNCCD) will have access, for the first time, to a wealth of vital new scientific data, say the organisers. “They will have access to Earth Observation data on the trends in land degradation dating from 2000, gathered from 120 of the 169 countries affected by desertification. They will also receive the first report on desertification and climate change prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global authority on climate change.”

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Drawing on this data, the participants attending the fourteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP14) to the UNCCD can assess trends in land degradation, desertification and drought more accurately. They will also be in a position to identify associated threats and risks to enable the international community to agree on the best solutions and actions to take over the next 10 years.

“India is one of the countries affected by desertification, and is facing new challenges, among which are recurrent droughts and dust and sand storms. The country has tremendous potential to turn these challenges into opportunities through improved land use and management, and to provide the leadership the world needs to take bold actions,” says Monique Barbut, the Executive Secretary of UNCCD.

“India recognises land rehabilitation as a cost-effective investment that can accelerate the transition to sustainable development globally. With India’s leadership, the international effort towards achieving land degradation neutrality could take huge strides forward. As it assumes the COP Presidency, the Convention’s 197 Parties can create the environment we need for innovative and ingenious solutions to our common goals,” Barbut added.

India’s population is projected to reach 1.7 billion by 2050, and the country was one of the first to commit to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal target of achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN). LDN is the Sustainable Development Goals’ target aiming to halt the degradation of land by taking three concrete actions. Countries promised to avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation, in that order of priority. Achieving land degradation neutrality can help vulnerable populations to improve their livelihoods, and communities all over the world can strengthen their resilience, especially to natural disasters linked to climate change.

Ahead of COP14, government representatives will gather for a preparatory meeting from January 28 to 30 in Georgetown, Guyana, for the seventeenth session of the Commitee for the Review of the Implementation of the UNCCD. CRIC 17 will take stock of results of the first global assessment of land degradation, based on Earth observation data reported by governments, and agree on most of the recommendations that COP14 will consider.

The Conference of the Parties was established by the Convention as the supreme decision-making body that today consists of 197 governments and a regional economic integration organisation. The Parties have met every two years since 2001 to review progress in the implementation of the Convention. The last Conference of Parties, hosted by the Government of China, was held in October 2017 in Ordos, Inner Mongolia.

Environment minister commends biosafety agency on implementation of mandate

Minister of Environment, Surveyor Suleiman Hassan Zarma, has commended the National Bio-safety Management Agency (NBMA) on its ability to properly implement its mandate.

The minister gave the commendation when he visited the agency on a familiarisation tour in Abuja.

The minister however urged the agency not to relent in sensitizing the public to distinguish between its role of regulating for safety and the promotion of the technology, saying that the public is most times confused on the role of the NBMA.

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He also said that the agency needed to be supported and encouraged in view of its regulatory activities.

Zarma promised that the Ministry of Environment would continue to ensure that the NBMA executes its responsibilities as contained in the Act that sets up the agency.

In his presentation, the Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, Dr, Rufus Ebegba, briefed the minister on the milestones of the agency since inception, noting that one of the greatest challenges facing the agency is the opinion that the agency was established to stop Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Hence what ever it does otherwise is heavily criticised, lamented the DG.

Dr Ebegba however stated that, contrary to the views that the NBMA was established to stop GMOs, the agency is rather established to ensure safety of products making sure that they do not cause harm to the environment and humans.

“One of the greatest challenges facing us is the fact that people think we were established to stop GMOs. Unregulated GMOs are bound to be abused. That is why NBMA was established to ensure safety,” Ebegba stated.

He also highlighted funding as a major drawback for the agency as the budgetary allocation is grossly inadequate to take care of its needs, adding that the agency is blessed with capable professionals and dedicated staff.

The DG/CEO took the minister on a tour of the agency’s GMO Detection and Analysis Laboratory and other offices of the organisation.

Housing Development Advocacy Network Sets Agenda For New Environment Minister

Current environmental issues in Nigeria are closely connected with the population growth. Like any other country, it uses resources to provide residents with good living conditions. However, regular consumption tends to lead to pollution and destruction of the environment.

Oil spills, desertification and loss of natural habitat all constitutes some of Nigeria’s greatest environmental challenges

To ensure cleaner and healthy environment, experts have canvassed the need for Nigeria to accept the sad reality that national development would be stunted and become more expensive unless it can develop a better response to environmental issues in the country.

It is in view of this, that the Housing Development Advocacy Network, has set an agenda for the new Minister of Environment Surv Suleiman Hassan Zarma, as he settles down to pilot the affairs of the ministry.

With a new minister at the helm of affairs, it is expected that the sector should do more in bringing all the decisions and discussions done in the past to concrete action. The following is a catalogue of environmental issues that have remained pending over the last few years and which should receive maximum attention this year.

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Ogoni clean-up

Over three years since the Federal Government flagged off the clean-up of polluted Ogoni land as recommended by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in its 2011 report, it was only recently that the project was handed over to contractors to commence the cleanup.

The progress of work towards the remediation of the communities affected by the age-long oil pollution, according to some groups, has been slow. But that, according to the Federal Government, is as a result of the programmes and projects which should be in place to facilitate proper cleanup.

However, there are residents who said not much has been done since the flag off. Government though insists that the work is a gradual process and will take a long time to complete.

There is need to carry out more projects that both residents and government can attest to.

Phasing out polythene bags

Over the years, it has remained in the government timeline to phase out polythene bags and as such different pronouncements have been made to that effect, but polythene still litter nooks and crannies of the country, constituting environmental nuisance and hazard.

In spite of the recent boost at the international level on the need to address the nuisance caused by polythene bags, Nigeria is still at the pronouncements stage.

Absence of modern waste management system

Waste management has remained one of the environmental challenges that need urgent attention as urban and rural areas are littered with waste.

It has become an embarrassing situation as even the highbrow areas are not left out.

The Federal Ministry of Environment’s pilot projects across some states on modern waste management system launched a few years ago is not quite a success story. There is therefore, need to have functioning waste management system that will create wealth from waste.

Flood

In spite of the heavy rainfall that led to flooding in many parts of the country, destroying lives and properties as well as displacing millions of Nigerians, government is yet to do much in terms of building dams that will contain water when released from Lagdo dam and other rivers.

Also, the installation of automated web-based flood early warning equipment in flood-prone communities nationwide as approved by the council, is still not in place in many communities as they have little knowledge about it.

The equipment is to help communities threatened by flood to act in good time and the appropriate manner to reduce the possibility of injury, loss of life and damage to property and the environment.

Great Green Wall

The Great Green Wall project which is supposed to bring succour to the 11 frontline northern states ravaged by desertification has not really done much due to some challenges affecting the implementation of the programme in some states.

The GGW is yet to become a success in most states despite the huge commitment of funds by government. There is need to ensure the project is a success in the country.

Adoption of clean energy

Despite Nigeria’s huge clean energy potentials, majority of Nigerian households unfortunately still rely on firewood and solid biomass for cooking.

The country is yet to achieve much in the proposed adoption of cleaner sources of energy to address pollution and reduction in the use of firewood among the rural populace.

According to former minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril, access to clean cooking solutions is the right of every Nigerian and the domestic market must be developed to ensure sustainability, yet much is left to be desired.

Improve forest cover

The Director General of Forest Research Institute of Nigeria, Dr Adeshola Adepoju, said Nigeria required about 20 to 30 million hectares of land for tree planting to get the required forest cover as recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

He said the country has only five per cent forest cover and required 20 percent more to be comfortable.

So there is need for more awareness and sensitization to achieve better adoption of tree planting and reforestation of degraded forest estates.

 

Lagos tasks property owners on indiscriminate conversion of buildings

Lagos State Government has warned property owners against indiscriminate conversion of the residential areas to commercial use, saying it is contributing to increase in refuse generation as well as the attendant illegal dumping of refuse in unauthorised places.

The state commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti gave the charge at stakeholders’ meeting with the Victoria Island and Ikoyi residents Association (VIIRA) in Victoria Island.The Commissioner, who frowned at the alarming rate at which the highbrow areas were being defaced, said the ugly development was illegal and capable of causing grave danger to the community.He urged Victoria Island and Ikoyi residents to prioritize clean environment by being observant and protective of their immediate environment.

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Durosinmi- Etti called for strict adherence to Lagos State laws regarding waste management, noise pollution and approved master plan of government for the area.The Commissioner, who affirmed the commitment of the government to attain a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, frowned at the ugly development whereby some residents continued to patronize cart pushers and dump indiscriminately on the roads, in spite several warnings on the environmental and health implications of such acts.

Durosinmi-Etti emphasised that the State Government had repeatedly warned against any abuse of its laws and all acts capable of compounding the challenge of waste management in the state.He also observed with dismay the proliferation of religious worship centres and Nite clubs in various residential areas in the Victoria Island and Ikoyi metropolis, and called for caution on the noise level to avoid rancor in the society.

His words: “any noise above the approved noise levels contravened the provisions of the National Environmental Noise Standard and Controls regulations 2009 as well as the Lagos State Environmental Laws 2017”.He sought the cooperation of religious centres and club owners for the maintenance of the acceptable noise levels for residential areas, which is 55 decibels during the day and 45 decibels at night, saying that they were expected to operate in an enclosed and soundproof environment with regulated use of speakers.

According to him, the state government would not rest on its oars in ensuring that Lagosians inculcate the habit of regular maintenance of their immediate environment.

In his remarks, the Vice Chairman of VIIRA, Dr. Salami thanked the Lagos State Government for its support in ensuring that the Victoria Island and Ikoyi Environment remained cleaner, healthier and safer.He pledged that his association would spur members of his community to cooperate with the government to stop all acts capable of degrading the environment.

Ecological Fund:Don advocates management of fund by independent body

President, Nigerian Meteorological Society, Prof. Clement Akosile,has called on the Federal Government to allow an independent body to manage the Ecological Fund for greater efficiency. Akosile said that professional management of the fund by an independent body would enable a more effective application of the fund in tackling ecological problems nationwide.

The professor made the call in an interview in Lagos.According to him, Ecological Fund given to some states was being used to solve problems not related to the environment.He said that the independent body should work with states and local governments to identify their ecological needs and solve them.

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Akosile noted that the country still suffered much environmental problems and, thus, required more effective utilisation of the fund.He advised that the fund should not be used to solve problems not related to the environment.

“Proper management of the fund is good for the country now and in the future.“Desert is fast encroaching on land areas in the north, deforestation is going on daily, erosions in some parts of the country are rapidly turning to gullies.

“Our sea shores are disappearing because of coastal erosion,’’ he said.Akosile added that floods ravaged communities in rainy season and sometimes destroyed human lives and property.He said that these environmental challenges would be tackled with effective utilisation of the Ecological Fund.He called for more tree planting to check drought and its attendant drying of lakes, rivers and streams.

The Ecological Fund was established in 1984 for tackling ecological problems in any part of the federation.Allocation to the fund has been reviewed from one per cent to three per cent of revenues accruing to the federation account.

Lagos Commissioner calls on V.I.,Ikoyi residents to protect environment

The Lagos State Government has urged Victoria Island and Ikoyi residents to prioritise clean environment by being observant and protective of their immediate environment.

Commissioner for the Environment, Mr Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti, said that the rate at which the highbrow areas were being defaced was alarming.

Durosinmi-Etti said the ugly development was illegal and capable of causing grave danger to the community.He, therefore, urged strict adherence to Lagos State laws regarding waste management, noise pollution and the approved master plan of government for the area.

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The commissioner said that the situation in which property owners in the area allowed indiscriminate conversion of the residential areas to commercial use was not acceptable.He said that it had seriously contributed to increase in refuse generation in the area, as well as the attendant illegal dumping of refuse in unauthorised places.

Durosinmi-Etti said that government was commited to attain a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.He frowned at the ugly development whereby some residents continued to patronise cart pushers and dump waste indiscriminately on the roads in spite several warnings on the environmental and health implications of such acts.

Durosinmi-Etti said that government had repeatedly warned against any abuse of its laws and all acts capable of compounding the challenge of waste management in the state.He said that there had been proliferation of religious worship centres and Nite clubs in various residential areas in Victoria Island and Ikoyi metropolis and called for caution on the noise level to avoid rancour in the society.

“Any noise above the approved levels contravened the provisions of the National Environmental Noise Standard and Controls Regulations 2009, as well as the Lagos State Environmental Laws 2017,” Durosinmi-Etti said in a statement.

He called for the cooperation of religious centres and club owners on the maintenance of the acceptable noise levels for residential areas, which was 55 decibels during the day and 45 decibels at night.

The commissioner said that they were expected to operate in an enclosed and soundproof environment with regulated use of speakers.

He added that government would not rest on its oars in ensuring that Lagosians inculcate the habit of regular maintenance of their immediate environment, as doing so was a collective responsibility.

Patunola-Ajayi recommend urban-regeneration scheme to boost housing delivery

The immediate past president of the Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Dr Bolarinde Patunola-Ajayi  (NIESV) says Nigeria should adopt the urban-regeneration scheme to boost its housing delivery and overcome its housing deficit.

Patunola-Ajayi, made the observation while speaking with reporters in Lagos. Patunola-Ajayi said that urban regeneration would entail the removal and demolition of the small apartments, shanties, and bungalows that were scattered across the country.

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They would have to be replaced with modern structures that would accommodate more people.He said that this would also entail the complete upgrading of slums which he said formed 70 per cent of the environment.“Urban regeneration can be in the form of demolishing the shanties to construct modern and high-rise structures that will accommodate more people.

“With urban regeneration scheme, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) programme will be encouraged.“The scheme will not completely be a government scheme, it will involve the private sector business ventures.“All that government needs to do is to acquire very large hectares of land and give it to the private sector to develop.“The government will also be expected to provide the enabling environment and facilities for the private operators to have a smooth operation,” he said.Patunola-Ajayi said that countries such as China and Singapore embraced the scheme to develop their countries and grow their housing sector.

He, however, said that the scarcity of land had been a major factor hindering the growth of housing development in the country.According to him, urban regeneration will pave the way for maximum/optimal ultilisation of the limited land to construct the needed number of houses.“With urban regeneration, land will be optimally ultilised to construct buildings that will accommodate more people because the shanties occupying spaces will be demolished,” he said.

Report reveals how green construction can mitigate climate change

Notwithstanding the need for building of more human settlements and adequate housing, the challenge has remained that the impact of construction and human activities is contributing a great deal to climate change.

One of the challenges in housing development is the abuse of the natural environment due to lack of adequate land use planning and poor land husbandry, resulting in loss of biodiversity, deforestation, desertification, soil erosion and pollution of land, air and water.

Moreover, if climate change impacts decrease the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it in turn leads to decreased available funding for the construction and renovation of housing.

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However, the report, which came out of a study supported by Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, stated that building green was one of the best strategies for meeting the challenge of climate change because the technology to make substantial reductions in energy and Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions already exists.

According to International Energy Agency, the average Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building uses 32 percent less electricity and saves 350 metric tons of CO2 emissions yearly.

The report highlighted that modest investments in energy-saving and other climate-friendly technologies can yield buildings and communities that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthier places to live and work, and that contribute to reducing CO2 emissions.

It therefore supported improvement of allocation and implementation of budget to the housing sector to provide for social mass housing that is environmentally friendly.

In accordance with section six of the National Housing Fund Act, the report said the Federal government of Nigeria should appropriate on a yearly basis, funds to compliment contributions and thereby increase the pool of funds available to NHF for disbursement to contributors.

It stressed the need for inclusion of climate change mitigation in the broad mandate of the Fund, primary mortgage institutions and users of the Fund.

As part of alternative funding, the report said the Central Bank of Nigeria should consider the establishment of a special fund for the housing sector, which should be in the neighbourhood of not less than N1 trillion.

In a report recently published by Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) on budgeting for climate change in the housing sector, stated that dramatic advances in technologies and a shift in how Nigeria generates and uses energy could reduce the challenges of climate mitigation.

Moreover, if climate change impacts decrease the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it in turn leads to decreased available funding for the construction and renovation of housing.

However, the report, which came out of a study supported by Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, stated that building green was one of the best strategies for meeting the challenge of climate change because the technology to make substantial reductions in energy and Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions already exists.

According to International Energy Agency, the average Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), acknowledged that  building uses 32 percent less electricity and saves 350 metric tons of CO2 emissions yearly.

The report highlighted that modest investments in energy-saving and other climate-friendly technologies can yield buildings and communities that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthier places to live and work, and that contribute to reducing CO2 emissions.

It therefore supported improvement of allocation and implementation of budget to the housing sector to provide for social mass housing that is environmentally friendly.

In accordance with section six of the National Housing Fund Act, the report said the Federal government of Nigeria should appropriate on a yearly basis, funds to compliment contributions and thereby increase the pool of funds available to NHF for disbursement to contributors.

It stressed the need for inclusion of climate change mitigation in the broad mandate of the Fund, primary mortgage institutions and users of the Fund.

As part of alternative funding, the report said the Central Bank of Nigeria should consider the establishment of a special fund for the housing sector, which should be in the neighbourhood of not less than N1 trillion.

Don advocates for better regulatory framework on renewable energy

A Professor in the University of Agriculture, Markurdi, Benue State, Prof. Isaac Itodo, has urged the Federal Government to come up with a better regulatory framework on renewable energy to address the nation’s electricity deficit.

Itodo made the call on Saturday,at a “Knowledge sharing Workshop on: Sustainable Biogas Generation as an Alternative Energy Resource in Nigeria” in Delta State.

The event was organised by the Higher Education Partnership for Sub-saharan Africa (HEP-SSA) projects and held at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE), Effurun.

Itodo, who spoke on “Sustainable Energy Resources: Practical Experience with Biogas Production and Utility”, said renewable energy in the country lacked proper regulation and technical expertise among others.

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According to him, most of the biogas plants built in Nigeria were based on “try and error”, adding only about 25 biogas facilities are functional in a country of over 180 million population.

The biogas expert said that Nigeria cannot meet her huge energy demand through hydro power source hence the need to urgently diversify.

“The 8,000 megawatts we generate as electricity is a mere theory, Nigeria needs a minimum of sustained 35,000 megawatts to drive her industrialisation and other sector of the economy.

“Energy consumption per capita is a parametre for measuring the economic index of a nation,” he said.

Speaking with newsmen, Itodo said there were different forms of renewable energy among which are: biofuel which includes biogas, solar and thermal, among others.

“We must keep fate with the renewable energy technology because that is the only way the country can be energy independent and by implication stimulate other infrastructure like the ICT.

“Renewable energy is the only way we can reduce our electricity deficit and improve our energy per capita consumption.

“Our energy per capita consumption is very low compared to average countries in Africa like Gabon and others,” he said.

Itodo said there was need for experts in the renewable energy sector to meet periodically to brainstorm and deploy various technology to meet the electricity demands of the country.

“To build a biogas plant is try and error in Nigeria, it takes me almost three years to get a biogas facility working despite having a Phd in it.

“What you have in the laboratory is almost different from what you have in the field, so people should form groups certified by the regulatory agency and start training on biogas,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Omonigho Otanocha, project coordinator, FUPRE-HEP-SSA, said the aim of the workshop was to share knowledge on the importance of biogas to the people, environment and the country.

He said the programme was aimed at propagating the sustainable production of biogas as well as scale up technology so that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and households can use the organic substances generated to produce energy.

“This project will last for two years between 2018 and 2020.

“It will be held in other four universities in Nigeria which include: Edo State University, Iyamho; University of Abuja; Alex Ekwueme University, Ebonyi; and Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta to build research and development,” he said.

 

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