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Weak enforcement of strong biodiversity policy threatening livelihood of West Africans-Minister of Environment, Abubakar FG, ECOWAS, CEDEAO play host to First Regional Convention on Biological Diversity

The Federal Government of Nigeria and ECOWAS CEDEAO hosted the first ECOWAS Regional Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) consultation on Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework on 10th-11th August, 2020 through a webinar.

The priorities for the consultation was centered on Biodiversity in the African continent with the hope of mobilizing regional effort to deliver biodiversity protection and resource mobilization towards achieving the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

The Regional Consultation with the theme “Strengthening the African Position Ahead of the Open Ended Working Group-3 (OEGW-3) Meeting” was declared opened by Dr. Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar, the Honourable Minister of the Environment.

In his statement, he said that the African continent is experiencing catastrophic biodiversity loss resulting from human-induced threats arising from unsustainable management practices. One of the African sub-region mostly impacted by this biodiversity loss is West Africa, having witnessed substantial economic loss because of this. These losses are becoming irreversible with the rate at which biodiversity is being decimated, habitat converted or degraded, deforestations across the sub-region is among the highest in the world, increased uncontrolled farmland expansion, illegal wildlife trade, etc.

He said “The livelihood of West Africans is being threatened daily due to unsustainable practices, strong biodiversity policy and laws but weak enforcement, lack of environmental awareness, weak political will for sustaining biodiversity conservation gains, uncoordinated sub-regional effort, among others.”

“As a government, we will continue to support and encourage other ECOWAS Member States to develop appropriate mechanisms to strengthen enforcement of biodiversity law and mobilize means of implementation towards the developed biodiversity action plans. In addition to this, we will also provide the required support to ensure continuous coordination of this sub-regional consultations on biodiversity while promoting strong regional collaboration among parties towards achieving the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.” He added.

In her remarks, Mrs. Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biodiversity revealed that it is important to recognise that Africa has, over the last several years, played a leadership role in the area of biodiversity. The African Ministerial Summit on Biodiversity held in 2018 in Sharm El Sheikh and the Pan-African Action Agenda on Ecosystem Restoration for increased resilience, endorsed at that Summit are some of such examples of Africa’s outstanding leadership.

She believes that the consultations call for an inclusive and cooperative spirit that will be needed at all levels, seeking to forge a new ambitious global framework to combat biodiversity loss and stop the destruction of ecosystems underpinning our very survival and the wellbeing of all life on earth.

She said “The impacts of COVID-19 should awaken in us a renewed sense of urgency to step up our efforts to conserve and protect biodiversity and nature, as these will be essential for avoiding future pandemics. The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, poverty alleviation, food and water security – these may seem like separate challenges, but they are interconnected and so too must be our response. Clearly, the One Health approach, which recognizes the connections between human health, animal health and the health and resilience of nature, can also help guide our work towards an effective post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, as well as to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals while addressing the climate crisis.”

In his remark, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director General of Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), regarded the ECOWAS CBD consultation as first of its kind in the sub-region necessary to address the challenges of environment which are climate change, lost in biodiversity, deforestation and more.

He said “NCF pledged to work with all colleagues in other West African countries leading national organisation to take the lead from the government and translate it to the grassroot.”

In her remarks, Ms. Alice Ruhweza, Africa Regional Director, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) coming together of Africans to discuss and provide solutions to biodiversity challenges will go a long way to impact the continent’s environment.

She said “The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework provides us with a window of opportunity to return to a path of sustainability for nature and people in Africa. Increasing and securing the share of benefits of our communities from nature while stopping and reversing biodiversity loss will be an essential pillar for Africa’s transformation.”

In her closing remark, Chief Sharon Ikeazor, Honourable Minister of State on Environment urged that we take the ambitious road and work together as a sub-region to choose a different path which is the path of conservation, restoration, transformation and sustainable use of our biodiversity ‘for indeed, our solutions are really in nature’.

She said “We cannot afford to stay on this path we are currently on which is the continued and accelerated destruction of nature, this path holds cascading consequences for nature in all ecosystems and on climate, including tipping of transitioning earth from a carbon sink to a carbon emitter. This path also holds grave consequences for humankind as we have seen from the outbreak of COVID-19 which has affected the global economy.”

Although the Regional Consultation is a CBD Party-driven discussion, it also gave opportunity for selected development partners, Intergovernmental Organizations and environmental NGOs like African Union Commission; African Development Bank; African Group of Negotiators on Biodiversity; Canadian Embassy; German Embassy; US Embassy; British High Commission; Australia High Commission; United Nations Environmental Programmes; AUDA-NEPAD, SADC, CEEAC, EAC; Birdlife International and others to participate and offer the necessary support.

This Consultation was organized with the technical and financial support of Nigerin Conservation Foundation (NCF) and Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) respectively. The webinar was moderated by Prof. Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, a professor of botany from the University of Ghana.

Recommendations to high-level ECOWAS decision-makers on the development of regional coordination on the development of the 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework here below made:

Conscious of the need to conserve biodiversity for future generations and of the need to ensure that the use of wild species is ecologically, economically and socially/culturally sustainable;

Parties to global instruments adopted to preserve wild species of fauna and flora and their ecosystems including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, the Convention on Wetlands; and wholly committed to their full implementation;

Recognizing that biodiversity from the West and Central Africa regions, including thousands of species that are threatened with extinction, form an integral and irreplaceable part of humanity’s natural heritage and must be protected for generations to come;

Alarmed by the dire warning in the landmark Intergovernmental Science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 2019 Global Assessment Report that 75% of the earth’s land surface is significantly altered, 66% of the ocean area is experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, and over 85% of wetlands (by area) have been lost; that about one million species are threatened with extinction, many within decades; and that changes in land and sea use and direct exploitation of organisms are the leading drivers of species loss and ecosystem decline;

Deeply Concerned by the rate at which forests and woodlands are receding today due to uncontrolled logging; bushfires; extensive farming; transhumant pastoralism; and political, legal, institutional, technical and economic challenges;

Aware  that the ocean covers 71% of the earth’s surface and Deeply Concerned that the pernicious degradation of wetlands and marine areas is increasing and that pollution, plastic waste, over-exploitation, warming, acidification and biodiversity loss in the ocean are occurring at rapid or unsustainable rates now impacting the distant polar regions and the high seas;

Noting the call in the “Global Deal for Nature”[1] by leading governments and scientists for the conservation of 30% of the Earth’s land and sea surface as a milestone towards the larger goal of 50% conserved by 2050, as a companion pact to the Paris Climate Agreement;

Recognising that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges the importance of halting biodiversity loss, protecting and preventing the extinction of threatened species, sustainably managing and using terrestrial forests and ecosystems, reversing land degradation, combatting desertification, and conserving and sustainably using the land, freshwater, wetlands, ocean, and marine resources for sustainable development;

Aware that biodiversity conservation commitments are urgently needed to respond to the spread of zoonotic diseases, and committed to contribute to the development of a coordinated, decisive, and innovative response to the Covid-19 pandemic through increased regional solidarity and collaboration;

Supportive of the process established under the Convention on Biological Diversity to set and achieve ambitious global goals and targets for addressing the biodiversity crisis through the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework;

Encourage High-Level Decision-Makers:

  • To Develop joint advocacy strategies through negotiations on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that promote the adoption of commitments to:
  • halt and start to reverse the loss of biodiversity,
  • conserve critical habitats,
  • expand protect areas,
  • slow and reverse global forest loss,
  • reduce the direct exploitation of species threatened with extinction to levels compatible with their recovery,
  • maintain favourable conservation status for all wild species;
  • reduce pollution from excess nutrients, biocides, plastic waste, light and noise;
  • increase resilience of ecosystems and livelihoods to address climate change impacts;

as means to securing the social and economic development of local communities thereby positively contributing to the implementation of the African Union Agenda 2063, “The Africa We Want”;

  • To Promote effective sub-regional cooperation and collaboration through continued ECOWAS’ involvement in the environment sector especially as it relates to Biodiversity, the development and the achievement of Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework implementation
  • To Leverage domestic budgets to facilitate the successful implementation of these recommendations and supporting global actions to increase support by all means possible.

Report made available to Animal Times Africa by:

Oladapo Soneye, Head Communications, NCF


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