Nigeria’s Minister of State for the Environment, Dr. Iziaq Adekunle Salako, has said there is no greater challenge confronting the global community today than that of climate change. He stated this at the ongoing 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nation Climate Change Conferences. He added that nowhere will the effects of climate change be felt so profoundly as in our oceans.
”Oceans provide livelihoods for millions of people, yet the livelihoods, human habitats, and diets that are only supported by healthy oceans are increasingly jeopardized as our climate changes. Today, we are facing a planetary emergency and our response needs to be commensurate with the scale and urgency of this emergency”, Salako noted.
He said Nigeria is a maritime state with an over 850km shoreline boarding the Atlantic Ocean and an estimated 20 million people living along the coastal zone. The lives, livelihoods and health of these 20 million Nigerians, according to Salako are potentially directly impactable by the health of the Atlantic ocean and we are now seeing riverine communities being washed away and becoming extinct.
”It is an established fact that has become undisputable that at least 30% of the global ocean must be protected through a network of “highly” and “fully” protected marine areas by 2030, to maximize the health and resilience of the global ocean. Establishing fully and highly protected marine areas must be a shared responsibility. We all share in the benefits provided by our oceans. We will also share in the harm when degraded coastal and marine ecosystems threaten the physical, economic, and food security of local communities, and when it threatens the global economy. If we fail to protect our oceans, our oceans will be unable to protect us.
”African nations have reached a consensus to support ratification of the new international ocean treaty for the high seas. Nigeria is also using the instrumentality of ECOWAS Chairmanship under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to mobilise the ECOWAS sub-region. Just last week, with the support of Bloomberg Ocean Initiative, ECOWAS countries met in Abuja, Nigeria and decided on a path to promptly ratify the newly adopted high-seas treaty to facilitate the designation of highly and fully protected areas in the global ocean beyond national jurisdiction. For Nigeria and indeed for ECOWAS, this is an essential and urgent step, and we call on all other regions and countries to join us and promptly ratify the treaty so that we can achieve 60 ratifications by June 2025.
” We must unite to ensure that our call for ambition for the expansion of protected areas is matched with equal ambition on finance, on halting human-induced extinction of wild species, on mutual accountability to halt forest loss and degradation, on securing species recovery and the restoration of jeopardized ecosystems. We must also ensure that we are fully prepared to implement the commitments we make for a better planet and to keep each other accountable in the implementation of these commitments”, Salako added.
He said Nigeria was committed to working together with member Nations to make swift, real progress towards protecting our oceans and towards prompt ratification of the high-seas treaty.