Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, has called for the urgent restoration of the polluted Ogoniland ecosystems and the entire Niger Delta region ecosystem within the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.
This as ERA has also urged the Federal Government to set up a special trustfund for the restoration of ecosystem in the country.
Mike Karikpo, Director Programme of ERA, made the call during an event in Port Harcourt to mark 2021 World Environment Day.
He said as the United Nations has set aside 2021-2030 as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, Nigeria must also be deliberate in restoring the nation’s environment.
Karikpo said “without concerted actions to preserve, restore and enhance the viability of our ecosystems, our capacity to make progress in critical areas such as education, health and employment will be greatly compromised”.
He said funds for ecosystem restoration should be in the region of $200billion so that within the next ten years, the Niger Delta environment can be restored and within 30years, host communities are not left to bear the burden of degraded environment.
He emphaised that the country must act now to save the environment and save lives, urging the government at all levels to do the following;
“The Nigerian state, (local, state, and national) to put in place clear policies and regulations that would ensure the sustainability of our ecosystems in line with the United Nations policies on ecosystem restoration by setting achievable targets tor implementation.
“Ecosystem restoration work should focus on addressing the actual sources of environmental degradation, so that the removal mechanism does not become business as usual in the continuation of carbon emissions released inito the atmosphere.
“End gas flaring now to restore Niger Delta ecosystems. Commit to energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources to reduce the rate of environmental degradation and ecosystem disturbance.
“There is desert encroachment in the North, Lake Chad is almost drying up. We must also ensure that the grasslands and the savannah in the North are restored.”
“The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will be a mirage unless concerted and genuine effort is made to provide finance and set targets to reduce the rate of deforestation and ecosystems disturbance by the number and scope of ecosystem restored, improved biodiversity and ecosystem resilience tor the health of Mother Earth and wellbeing of people.”
On his part, Dr GOdwin Ojo, Executive Director, ERA explained the benefits of a restored ecosystem to the country.
He said: “Restoring the ecosystem will enhance biodiversity, clean polluted rivers and contaminated soil and improve local livelihoods of our people.
“Ecosystem restoratiion will enhance capacity of our soils and forests to storegreenhouse gases rather than the false solution of carbon capture and storage facilities that do not cut emissions at source and poses grave danger to ecosystems.”
“The crucial challenge requires a post petroleum economy through deep transformation in global production and consumption patterns.Therefore, ecosystem restoration requires concerted actions at local, national and international levels focusing on a pragmatic shift towards a sustainable decarbonized development pathway before it is too late.”