3rd Lagos State Climate Change Summit
Feb 8, 2011 - It is with great delight that I welcome everyone present here today as we further the talks and the actions on the most dreadful threat facing the planet earth - Climate Change.
It remains a peculiar problem that has continually put the world leaders on their toes over the years. It is the cause of the many major disasters the world has experienced in recent times. Such calamities include flood, heat, mudslide, landslide, harsh weather condition, desertification to mention a few.
The theme of this year's • climate change summit is "Charting a Road Map for Combating Climate Change in Nigeria". Thus, today marks another struggle to rescue our dear planet from the looming dangers currently ravaging the global space.
It is a struggle to correct our errors, a struggle to save global citizens from the approaching ecocatastrophe - I mean the effort to save posterity from the consequence of errors for which they are not responsible.
The 3-day International Summit on Climate Change starting today is the 3 (third) that the Government of Lagos State is organising as part of our committed and strategic efforts to respond to the Climate Change question.
You will recall that last year, the horizon of the conference was widened with the presence of Governors and technocrats from various States in all the six geo-political zones of the nation including the Vice President, His Excellency, Arc. Namadi Sambo GCON, who was then the Governor of Kaduna State.
To underscore the importance of that gathering in disseminating required information to stakeholders in our collective effort at reducing the effects of climate change, my colleague, the Govern9r of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomole hosted the Governors' Forum, a discussion forum where chief executives of the various States exchanged ideas on what was being done and what should be done.
This indeed to my mind is a great achievement because the more the dramatis personae understand the challenges and the solution and they are prepared to provide necessary leadership and tools to the followership, the closer we progress towards arresting the situation.
Obviously, the motive for Lagos State leading role in addressing Climate Change crisis is not farfetched. Given its topography, it is highly prone to some of the vagaries of climate change especially flooding and coastal erosion. Other parts of the Nation are equally being ravaged by desertification and flooding which are capable of displacing people thereby increasing the population of Lagos State unprecedentedly. Everyone must pick up the gauntlet and act in respective capacities.
The experience of the nation in the last year with flooding and erosion which claimed several lives, livestock, farm produce and houses remain very fresh in our minds. Although it may not be as serious in Lagos State as it was in some Northern States the man hours lost and the excruciating pains our people endured when the sea level rose and
Ogun river over flowed its banks and virtually disconnected a whole division of the State from its daily interactions with other parts of the State.
A lot of people who were displaced from their homes and had to be relocated in our relief camp. The lesson to be learnt there is that what happened may be a tip of the iceberg if urgent steps are not taken to stem global warming.
The experience of Brazil, Sri Lanka and Australia where flood has claimed so many lives and caused colossal damage to properties is enough evidence that our work is cut out if we must succeed in battling the effects of climate change. It requires every hand to contribute in a positive way for success to be achieved.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I find it fulfilling to announce that, in the last one year, our Government has achieved commendable landmarks in line with the resolutions of the Summit. We have intensified our awareness campaign; we collaborated with many NGOs such as the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Human & Environment Development Agency (HEDA), UNIDO, UNDP amongst others to identify potent groups who can help drive the message to the grass root.
Advocacy, we believe, will facilitate better understanding of the associated risks and what should be done to mitigate and adapt. We reckon that the religious leaders, traditional rulers and community leaders have the longest, widest and deepest reach and as such could deepen our advocacy efforts and enhance active popular participation. We have not ignored youth organisations, students and scholars as critical stakeholders to help us propagate the causes and effects of climate change and what they could do to reverse the trend.
The recent kick-off of the Carbon Train in Lagos by the Federal Government is a strong indicator of our readiness to champion the cause for a stronger environmental revival and restoration. The world leaders must sincerely agree in words, spirit and action for a sustainable environment.
We have planted more trees to cleanse the air and reduce carbon-dioxide; we have expanded areas of collaboration which facilitated the removal of shipwrecks on our water ways by the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). We have taken steps to protect our shoreline as well as monitor water rise level to avert preventable coastal erosion capable of endangering lives, displacing residents and destroying properties.
We have intensified efforts at putting drainage channels in place for effective storm water management and protecting our wet lands which serve as buffer zones and retention camp for excess rain water from abuse which not only compound flooding but also leads to deforestation and threatens biodiversity.
For the effective management of our sewage and waste water a Waste Water Management Office has been created and attached to the Lagos State Water Corporation to ensure that over ground and underground water are not polluted. The initiative will also effect recycling of waste water to reduce wastage as well as enhance irrigation.
The Ministry of Waterfront infrastructure has taken steps to fortify our waterfronts as well as monitor level of water rise to prevent untoward disaster. In the same vein, our emergency response has been strengthened to ensure effective and timely response in time of emergency.
We are investing in more relief camps, safety information advocacy to improve our preparedness to save lives and property when unpredictable reaction of nature sometimes overwhelm our best endeavours.
We have been major participants at global events the most recent being the last World Climate Change Summit held in Cancun to further learn from world as part of our indomitable appetite to search for best practices and exchange ideas on how to overcome this global terror and the emerging mitigation and adaptation initiatives.
Fellow citizens of the world, in my own candid opinion, we seem to talk more than we act. As the Kyotol Protocol expires in 2012, it is urgently expedient that we begin to identify our shortcomings, locate our strength and conscientiously find sustainable approaches to addressing climatic errors.
We must recognize what has been working and what has not. Several international conferences and meetings have taken place in the last two to three years including the one in Cancun Mexico last December. It is imperative that we begin to implement the recommendation packages of those meetings. We need to think globally and act locally
As reported in the media late last year, one¬-fifth of world's plants are at risk of extinction ¬scientists have admonished. Many of these plants are victims of habitat loss characterised by clearing of forests for industries, residential areas and commercial activities.
There are also credible indications that the current predictions on Climate Change actually underestimate the potential, calamity that could befall the world. The approaching disasters, if sufficient care is not taken, will be more devastating than the first and second World Wars combined.
What we desperately need as global citizens is to retool our efforts and reinvent our strategies towards achieving the desired result. Ensuring environmental sustainability is a task that should be achieved before 2015 as entrenched in the Millennium Development Goals package as the seventh goal.
This summit therefore will hopefully help to assess the success of efforts at tackling the climate change so far.
Our development efforts must take sufficient cognizance of environmental sustainability. Truly, no effective and meaningful development can thrive and survive without a healthy environment.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, participants, invited guests as I conclude this address, I wish to provide a new thinking and perspective for our scientists and experts.
While the evidence of Climate Change is real, overwhelming and undeniable, I ask myself whether our interpretation of this evidence is correct.
In order words, is it our planet that is at risk, in the sense that the planet earth can come to an end and perish or is it our civilization as human beings that is under threat?
I ask these questions because of the equally overwhelming evidence that many other species have traversed our planet many millions of years ago and perished.
Are we the ones to give way or is it our planet or both?
I am bold to say that, with the assemblage of proven professionals at this summit, we have better hope in addressing climate change debacle.
I thank you so much for your attention and I wish you a remarkable interaction. God bless you all.
Eko o ni baje o
BABATUNDE RAJI FASHOLA, SAN
Governor of Lagos State