Harnessing young peoples’ potential to mitigate climate action in Nigeria
By Dianabasi Effiong, Nigeria News Agency
The Federal Ministry of Environment, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Aug. 15 hosted a two-day Regional Youth Climate Incubation Hub for select youths in Nigeria’s South-South Zone.
The forum was the first in a programme designed by organisers to cover six zones and further strengthen Nigeria’s position as a member country of the United Nations’ Youth Engagement and Public Mobilisation track at the Climate Action Summit.
The summit is slated for Sept. 23 in New York for participants to offer ideas on ways to stop the increase in emissions by 2020 and “dramatically reduce emissions to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century’’, among others.
The Port Harcourt event, facilitated by Health of the Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), an environmental think-tank organisation, had participants drawn from Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers States.
A trending document on UN Climate Action Summit 2019 from the global organisation stated that Global emissions had reached record levels.
It stated: “The last four years were the four hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990.
“Sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying, and we are starting to see the life-threatening impact of climate change on health, through air pollution, heat waves and risks to food security.
“The impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere and are having very real consequences on people’s lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow.
“But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.
“The latest analysis shows that if we act now, we can reduce carbon emissions within 12 years and hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and even, as asked by the latest science, to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.’’
“Thankfully, we have the Paris Agreement – a visionary, viable, forward-looking policy framework that sets out exactly what needs to be done to stop climate disruption and reverse its impact.
It also stated, sadly, that “the agreement itself is meaningless without ambitious action’’.
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, expects from world leaders at the proposed summit, innovative, concrete and realistic plans “to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050’’.
In reaction to such expectations, Mr Nnimmo Bassey, an Environmental Justice Advocate and Director of HOMEF, underscored the importance of the Youth Round table on Climate Action to unlock youth innovation in Nigeria’s climate action.
He also told participants at the forum, which included about 70 young people, that they were capable of brightest ideas for solving problems of climate change in Nigeria.
According to him, the greatest action government can take on gas flaring is to stop it and not to reduce it.
“If government can stop gas flaring by the year 2020 it will be a great achievement for the people to be released from the embarrassment on our environmental health and our children’s health,” Bassey said.
He also said that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) should be put in place to penalise anybody or company that defaulted on gas flaring in Nigeria.
He called on government to take seriously, the ideas of youths on how to tackle climate change and global warming because it encapsulated their future and that of their children.
Also, Mr Sheyifumi Adebosey, a youth activist, told the forum that young people were the second most important group in addressing climate change because it is about their future.
Adebosey, who said that youth action on climate change to protect our environment had national value, also renewed the call for urgency in tackling the global climate change.
Similarly, Miss Anumenechi Stephanie, the Digital Communication Head of International Climate Change Development Initiative Africa (ICCDI), called for government’s collaboration with companies and Non-Governmental Organisations to stop gas flaring.
She said that such collaboration should ensure that gas is used for economic growth nstead of being flared.
Expectedly, the Federal Ministry of Environment, through its Department of Climate Change, charged participants on the imperatives of the event, adding that climate and climate change have become issues of global concern particularly in Third World countries like Nigeria.
Sa’adatu Gambo, a Senior Scientific Officer at the Department of Climate Change, who represented the Federal Ministry of Environment, said that the Department of Climate Change remained Nigeria’s focal point for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The expectation of the organisers were that “there will be an acceleration of key improvement on climate change’’ at the end of the event.
They also expected what they called “creative ideas that are specific, measurable, achievable, bankable, realistic and time bound, which will be harnessed and built from concept stage to actual implementation’’.
Participants also observed that issues of climate change called for emergency in Nigeria and that proactive measures should be taken by the Nigerian government to tackle it.
They also observed that the non-implementation of extant environmental laws and policies continually serve as major setback in the fight for a safe climate in Nigeria
The need to create more awareness among Nigerians, financial investment and transfer of technology to build human capacity and groom basic ideas to mitigate climate crises in Nigeria were also restated by participants at the Port Harcourt event.
The young people engaged in series of brain storming and Focused Group Discussion (FGD) where innovative ideas were proffered.
These included the need for that Climate Change Desk Officers at both Federal and State ministries in Nigeria who should ensure that participants in the Youth Climate Hub were further engaged on climate change issues.
They also recommended that biogas should be generated from household biodegradable waste and bio-digester while effort should be made on recycling in regards to plastic bottle collection and reuse and also waste segregation and separation.
The group as called for the establishment of environmental clubs and advocacy for target groups and also creating certain social documentaries on climate change in local dialects.
According to the “Youth Climate Incubation Hub’’, `Apps should be available to map vulnerable and non-vulnerable areas to climate change impact’ and solar panels should be made more affordable for the people.
The young people also called for Mangrove reclamation and tree planting, especially indigenous species and economic crops.
They said: “There is need for government at all levels to stop paying lip service and amplify action on climate change policy implementations.
“There should be a massive advocacy campaigns on the impact of climate change; the inclusion of climate change education in our curriculum at the various levels of learning in Nigeria.’’
According to the group, youths voices should be further amplified and their creative ideas on climate change harnessed.
They also stressed the need to strengthen existing structure to integrate women and marginalised groups’ participation in all levels in climate action in Nigeria. (NANFeatures)
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