By Chijioke Okoronkwo
President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged the sum of 550,000 dollars as Nigeria’s contribution to the building of the Great Green Wall Secretariat.
The president made the pledge on Thursday at the 8th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW), at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.
Buhari, represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said African countries must continue to explore various measures to combat climate change and desertification, while addressing food insecurity and poverty across the continent.
Nigeria is part of the African Union’s Great Green Wall initiative which aims to restore the continent’s degraded landscapes and transform millions of lives, while boosting food security, and strengthening climate resilience.
“I have, in my capacity as the President of the Conference of Heads of States and Government of Member States, directed the Minister of Finance of Nigeria to lead the initiative to access the funds pledged by our partners under the Great Green Wall Accelerator.
“The minister will take appropriate steps in line with the understanding we had at the Abidjan side meeting held on May 9.
“Having also fulfilled the payment of our outstanding contribution of about 654, 291 dollars, I am also glad to pledge the sum of 550,000 dollars as our contribution to the building of the Great Green Wall Secretariat.
“I call on other member countries to follow suit by contributing towards the building of a befitting office for the PAGGW,” he said.
The president stated that he had directed the Federal Ministry of Environment to coordinate the release of some vehicles for the use of PAGGW secretariat and allied agencies.
Buhari said Nigeria planned to attain net zero by 2060 as its energy transition plan also focused on how to creatively transit to net zero emissions, increase access to power, high agricultural and industrial output.
“It is important to emphasise that for Africa, mitigation and adaptation methods for climate change must be mindful of the fact that Africa is confronted with twin challenges.
“The ravages of climate change but perhaps more importantly the existential problem of extreme poverty must be addressed.
“We must take every opportunity and especially at meetings like this, to remind ourselves as African leaders and our development friends, of what the great green wall initiative is and what it is not,” the president said.
Buhari said that while the original vision was to create a wall of trees against desertification in the Sahel, the horn and across North Africa, the great green wall had a more ambitious reach.
According to him, the initiative is now a variety of sustainable land use practices designed to combat climate change and desertification and to address food insecurity and poverty.
He further stated: “Nigeria believes that protecting our planet, its biodiversity and climate are essential to our collective survival.
“The impact of climate change is upon us all over the continent – drought and desertification increasing conflicts over pasture and water, food insecurity, loss of livelihood and youth migration, among others.”
He said the receding Lake Chad due to the effects of climate change must be addressed urgently to avoid loss or great reduction in fishing, dry season farming and all other associated value chain benefits.
Buhari highlighted steps taken by the Nigerian government in this regard, including the recently signed Nigeria Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) Project with the World Bank.
The president commended the current initiatives by the international technical and financial partners for pledging financial resources to support the implementation of the great green wall initiative.
He called for financing to help preserve African rain forests which he said absorbed no less than 1.5 billion tonnes of C02 yearly.
The president also said “This is more than the Amazon or any other region’s rain forests.
“Financing is needed to help preserve these vital carbon sinks because without viable alternative energy sources, much of the local population still depends on burning firewood for cooking and heating.
“So, there is a need to provide sustainable energy alternatives and to compensate regional governments who in the interest of maintaining these carbon sinks for us all have to forgo deforestation for agriculture or industrialisation.”
Buhari further stated that the Decennial Priority Investment Plan (DPIP) 2021 – 2030 was an important pillar of the overall great green wall project.
“The plan is hinged on sustainable land management actions that emphasise ecosystem restoration, recovery and conservation of land and biodiversity, socio-economic development activities, adaptation and resilience to climate change.
“The early disbursement of the pledged resources without stringent conditionalities would indeed see the transformation of our degraded ecosystems,’’ he added.
Earlier in his remarks, Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, said the financial pledges and commitments led to the establishment of the great green wall accelerator – a multi-stakeholder platform to actualise the actions of the great green wall initiatives.
Buhari afterwards inaugurated the 2022 Tree Planting Campaign and called on State Governments to replicate the same so that Nigeria could meet its pledge of planting 25 million trees in the next two years.(NAN)