A MAJOR stride towards stepping up Nigeria’s fight against global climate change was recorded at the weekend in Abuja, with the coming together of four key climate players in the country to endorse a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the development of the nation’s National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action.
The pact between Special Climate Change Unit (SCCU) of the Federal Ministry of Environment (FME), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Building Nigerian Response to Climate Change (BNRCC)/Nigeria Environment Study/Action team (NEST), Nigeria-CAN supported by Coalition for Change (C4C), and Heinrich Boll Foundation is expected to provide a mandate to integrate adaptation into key federal and state policies and programmes as well as enhance the adoption of adaptation efforts at all levels of government.
The MOU and Terms of Reference (TOR), which has a time duration of one year was signed at the UNDP office by representatives of the parties. Signatories included Dr. Victor Fodeke, Head, SCCU represented by Peter Tarfa, an Assistant Director, FME; Mr. Muyiwa Odele, Team Leader, Governance for Environmental Resources and Risks Programme (UNDP); Prof. David Okali, Chairman, NEST Governing Board; and Dr. Emmanuel Nzegbule, Programme Director, BNRCC/NEST, Mr. Ewah Eleri, the coordinator, Nigeria-CAN/ C4C.
Studies have shown that some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria may have greater vulnerability to the impact of climate change. According to assessments published by NEST, Nigeria is particularly vulnerable due to a long coastline prone to sea level rise and increasing storms potential for increased drought and desertification in two thirds of Nigeria’s land mass.
The study also revealed threats to food security and livelihood because agriculture in Nigeria is largely rain fed and can be adversely affected by changes in rain pattern, threat to health security because of the prevalence of diseases such as malaria, cholera, cerebro-spinal meningitis and other diseases, which could be exacerbated by extreme weather events such as flooding, changes in temperature and humidity patterns.
Besides, energy and industrial infrastructure are liable to disruption from extreme weather events.
The Guardian learnt the MOU will bring about a systematic harmonisation of efforts to effectively address the impact of climate change in Nigeria as prior to the signing of the landmark document, several efforts had been made in research, awareness creation and community experimentations by different stakeholders and the Federal Government in combating the impacts of climate change, which has been largely uncoordinated.
Essentially, the national adaptation strategy and plan of action are to be undertaken through a multi-stakeholders forum process that requires the establishment of an advisory forum made up of civil society, government, private industry and environmental groups to oversee the process. The forum is to direct in-depth assessments of impacts and adaptation to climate change in all sectors including agriculture, health, insurance and financial sector, energy as well as infrastructure.
It will also entail the development of innovative action plan, using existing and new implementation tolls that will bring about real adaptive actions at the national, regional and local level as well as gathering experts and stakeholders to assess Nigeria’s key vulnerabilities and develop implementation strategies. The forum will also hold regional meetings to ensure that final strategy and action plan have the community inputs from across the country.
Mr. Tarfa noted that UNFCC has mandated the country to produce a National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) due to its inherent benefits and that a new approach is necessary in coming up with the document that would focus on enhancing adaptive capacity to climate variability, which itself would help address the adverse effects of climate change. The NAPA takes into account existing coping strategies at the grassroots level, and builds upon that to identify priority activities, rather than focusing on scenario-based modeling to assess future vulnerability and long-term policy at state level.
He said that in Nigeria, various plans have been formulated and the collation of various documents will enable the country tap into the Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF) established to support a work programme to assist Least Developed Country Parties (LDCs).
Prof. Okali described the occasion as a turning point for the adaptation programme in Nigeria as NEST has been working since 2001 to ensure action on environment and sustainable development, saying that anything short of concerted efforts will not make impact on the populace. While lauding the partnership between the parties, he said that in the second phase of the BNRCC project, part of the goal is on developing NAPA and the current agreement signifies their meeting the objective.
The Coordinator, Nigeria-CAN, Mr. Eleri hinted that Nigeria needs strong policies to address Climate Change challenges and planning the process. He said the MOU would support the government in developing NAPA and meet with the demand of extreme economic and climatic conditions.
According to Mr. Odele, the MOU represents a significance step in supporting the Nigerian government to develop a minimum framework to adapt to the issue of climate change both as a challenge and opportunity.
“It will strategically position Nigeria to benefit immensely from the post Copenhagen negotiations in December. We are also happy, the array of partners, government and civil society and UNDP as parties on this initiative, underscores the importance of collective efforts to address the issue of climate change and opportunity to input the 2020 document to help Nigeria plan future development towards low carbon economy,” he said.