By Michael Simire Deputy Editor, Sunday
“It is hoped that Nigeria will also gain from the Rio+20 conference in terms of capacity building, effective and proper participation, and derive benefits from the green climate fund that is expected to be put in place.” Those were the words of Nigeria’s Environment Minister, Hadiza Mailafia, last week in Abuja as she briefed some members of the House of Representatives on the nation’s preparations for the historic summit, tagged “Rio+20”.
She likewise outlined the country’s expectations from the conference to the House Committee on Environment, underlining the need for Nigeria to be represented at the summit by a formidable delegation. She said: “It is hoped that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be in attendance. As a rallying point for African Heads of States, there is a need for a high level delegation to be in Brazil. Participants from Africa will include heads of Governments, parliamentarians, stakeholders including the business community, the Nigerian Mission in Denmark, representatives of international development community, NEPAD, non-governmental organisations, and donor organisations. The emphasis is on green environment and clean economy. The sectors will include infrastructure development, health, education, roads, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, power and energy, housing and tourism”. According to her, the issues on the agenda of Rio+20 are such that expectations are high. “Before now a lot of issues were raised concerning pollution in the atmosphere and land degradation in terms of deforestation. It is expected that world leaders will use Rio+20 to commit themselves to the decisions taken at earlier summits. One of this is that a 2 degrees celsius target as the outer limit of global temperature increase is the only thing that mankind can reasonably tolerate. So we need countries that are highly industrialised to stick to these decisions that were taken earlier. There is also a need for green house gas emissions to be re-cut by at least 50 percent by 2050”. The minister recalled earlier resolutions at the COP 17 conference in Durban on reduction of emissions, on green climate fund and issues of capacity building which affect developing countries and middle countries, including Nigeria. She stated that the G8 and other industrial countries were expected to commit their emission cuts of 25 to 40 percent by the year 2020, and 80 percent by 2050. “We also expect that emerging economies and developing countries will commit to these emissions backed with national action plans, not only statements.” According to her, there is a need to co-ordinate and facilitate the case of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “We have along with other African countries being trying to ensure that UNEP is upgraded to a World Programme, so that we have what we call World Environment Organisation, just like the World Health Organisation. We also want the sustenance of the status of Nigeria at the highest possible level, throughout the summit, by ensuring that we have a very formidable presentation on behalf of the country. It will also afford us an opportunity to drive Nigeria’s transformation vision and expectations concerning the developments in the country. We also want to ensure that there is a resolution of specific issues that affect Nigeria. We also intend that this outing will provide opportunities for networking to facilitate an attraction of investment to Nigeria at the highest levels, particularly in the areas of renewable energy and climate change.” She recalled that Nigeria’s participation in previous international conferences had resulted in remarkable results for the country. She cited the lifting of ban on CITES, capacity building, the creation of NOSDRA, the promulgation of various laws and regulations as some of the examples. Mailafia noted that after the country’s participation in COP 17, the climate change unit was upgraded to a full-fledged department. She also cited several ensuing interactive sessions and advocacy campaigns which increased public awareness of environmental issues. She emphasised that NEEDS I and NEEDS II documents emanated from the consolidation of the outcomes of such previous conferences, and that the Transformation Agenda of the present administration was skewed towards achieving sustainable development, security and poverty alleviation. She stated that agencies created in the process have contributed to employment generation, in addition to addressing various environmental issues. The registration of some Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects with the international secretariat and the ban on importation of two-stroke engines were further outcomes of Nigeria’s participation in similar meetings, the minister disclosed. She expressed optimism that more institutional initiatives would result from Nigeria’s participation in Rio+20, in the spirit of the present administration’s Transformation Agenda. Twenty years after the historic 1992 Earth Summit in Rio and 10 years after the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg (South Africa) in 2002 (Rio+10) , the world is once again coming together to explore equitable and ecological issues on sustainable development. The event is focusing on green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty reduction; institutional framework for sustainable development; and, emerging issues (such as climate change and development, biodiversity, land policy initiative, food security, and technology transfer). The objectives of the summit are to: secure a renewed political commitment for sustainable development; assess progress to date, and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of various international meetings, at individual country levels and at the collective global level; and, address new and emerging challenges that have come up. Prior to the high level conference to be held from 20th to 22nd in June, 2012 in Brazil, there will be technical sessions between 17th and 19th of June 2012 and final preparatory meetings to hold from 13th to 16th of June 2012. Meanwhile, the finalisation of the Country Report towards Rio+20 was in top gear penultimate weekend as consultants and technical directors in the Environment Ministry brainstormed to firm-up and endorse the national document. The journey to Rio+20 will however peak when Mailafia, formally presents the national document to the President Goodluck Jonathan for his official assent. The meeting made technical inputs on the structure and content of the document to reflect national realities as efforts by various stakeholders, amongst others, highlight Nigeria’s efforts towards a cross-cutting pathway to green economy.
The 109-page document offered an insight into landmark events in national life while also projecting into the future. Divided into five sections, the national document touches on the national circumstances, background to the Rio+20 conference, and report preparation and outline. Prominence is also given to the issues of sustainable development in the national context, particularly the economic, social and environmental pillarsn while great attention was attached to the national efforts towards achieving sustainable development with emphases on development challenges, particularly in the area of sustainable development, managing the risks of climate change, greening the economy and institutional arrangement, legal framework and operationalisation of sustainable development. Focus was also made on the area of future plans. For instance, the report takes stock of what Nigeria had achieved since the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and what the country is doing in its efforts to achieve national sustainable development, particularly in the face of emerging challenges such as climate change, and the greening of an economy that is currently fossil fuel-dependent.