From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
A Non-governmental organisation, Centre for Environment and Human Rights Development (CEHRD), has concluded a one day capacity building workshop on biodiversity and climate change legislation for members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
In his opening remarks, Prof Nenibarini Zabbey, Executive Director of CEHRD said the legislators were gathered to discuss ways by which they can through enactment of laws, bring sustainable solution to the effects of environment challenge faced in the state and Niger Delta at large.
Prof Zabbey said: “We gathered members of the Rivers State House of Assembly to build their capacity in the area of biodiversity conservation restoration, as well as climate mitigation; these two components of the environment are linked. It is difficult to separate them and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Niger Delta, particularly Rivers State depends on biodiversity and biodiversity depends on climate change.
“We also feel in order to protect the biodiversity of the Niger Delta, in order to mitigate climate change, there is need for this programme. Of course the impact of climate change is very heavy in this part of the world, especially here in the Niger Delta where we live 2-4 metres above the sea level. So, we feel there is need for sustainable laws that will conserve our environment, conserve biodiversity, restore the degraded environment and mitigate effect of climate change, especially in Rivers State”.
In his speech, Rt Hon Ikuinyi Owaji-Ibani, Speaker, RSHA, stressed that the workshop will help improve the knowledge of the lawmakers on environment issues, especially as it affects biodiversity and climate change.
He said “The programme is important because when lawmakers have knowledge of what happens in the environment, they put it into legislation and you know that legislation is something that will positively impact on the society.
“If they have knowledge about biodiversity in this training, the knowledge that the species in the water needs to be preserved, to be conserved for future generations to also enjoy them is key to legislation.
“The workshop is very important for legislator because when things like that is debated at the floor of the House and you do not have knowledge of it, the input will not be quality but in this case if CEHRD in conjunction with Dutch government is able to organise this, bringing in the 9th Assembly members to also have knowledge of such, the implication is that any law brought to the House that had to do with environment will be debated properly and members will be circumspect enough to also arrive at a bill that stands a taste of time”, the Speaker added.
On his part, Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Hon Dumle Maol, assured that “as an institution of government that we are going to support them. We are available to do that which we are supposed to do as government, especially as legislators.
“What we are going to do as a Committee, we are going to review the outcome of the training and then we will support as a report from the committee to the House for debate. The House will look at it like the Speaker earlier said and we will take actions where necessary. There need to be new laws that will address issues bothering on climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation.”
Earlier in his paper presentation on Biodiversity Audit Legislation, Prof Ebere Erondu, noted the need to reduce the level of pollutant in the environment, stressed that deforestation should be strictly prohibited.
The University of Port Harcourt Don, also stated that the useful and endangered species of plants and animals should be conserved in their nature as well as artificial habitats.
He added that “Public awareness should be created for people to realise the import of what they are doing attacking the biodiversity”.
However, Dr Kabari Sam who presented a paper titled “Developing Climate Change Resilient Legislations in Rivers state”, pointed population and exploitation as major threats to biodiversity.
Speaking on the workshop, he said legislation is key to any effective strategy to address climate change impacts, adding that “the issues of climate change require a capacity building and willingness of lawmakers”.
He said the legislators have serious responsibility in helping the government to serve the people better in the state development, stressed that “since we cannot stop climate change, there is resilient. There is need for climate change action plan”.