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Fashola Says Lagos Is Now Prepared To Protect, Conserve Environment As 7th Lagos Climate Change Summit Kicks Off
• Urges greater support for Governor-elect Ambode in the drive to sustain environmental awareness
• Makes clarion call for global action to conserve nature's gift, adapt to nature's evolution

Apr 21, 2015 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Tuesday flagged off the 7th Lagos State Annual Climate Change Summit with an assurance that the State was now prepared to venture and reach out for the best the future offers in terms of a sustainable environment , urging residents to protect , conserve and re-use in the Centre of Excellence.

Governor Fashola, who spoke while declaring open the three-day Summit at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, said although the future holds a grim picture of global environmental adversity, Lagos has put several measures in place to counter any such adversities both at present or in the future.

Such measures, the Governor said, include the tree planting and greening programme to check erosion, Energy Conservation through the construction of Independent Power Plants (IPPs) and the Eko Atlantic City Project, which he described as the new wall of Lagos on the Atlantic adding that his administration has also put in place a 13 year plan (2012 – 2025) to protect, conserve and sustain the environment of the State.

The Governor, who said a general adverse environment would arise from growing population with dwindling food and water supply, land being lost to desertification and conflicts and security breaches arising from farmers needing to move their cattle and livestock in search of food and water, added, however, that such a grim prospect can checked through sustainable initiatives like the use of solar energy, wind energy, electric cars, conservation, emergence of a new economy and a major technological revolution.

He told the capacity audience of Environment and Energy experts, Town planners, Horticulturists, Conservation Experts and other stakeholders, "Let me dimension today, perhaps, as a way of setting the agenda for the future. There is likely to be a growing population needing more food and water; dwindling water supply and land being lost to desertification".

"Farmers will need to move their cattle and livestock in search of food and water; conflicts and security breaches will arise from cattle and livestock trespassing on other people's land and sometimes damaging food crops. More people will be using smart phones, tweeting, texting and communicating", the Governor said adding that these would create a steady and persistent demand for energy to keep the phones and devices functional.

Also predicting the possibility of more people being displaced by flooding among the many other future problems across the globe, Governor Fashola, however, said the picture was not altogether a grim and hopeless one adding that the environment could still be sustained by those who dared to reach for the available measures.

On what his administration has done to prepare Lagos for the future in terms of aforementioned adversities, the Governor said many of the old and dysfunctional waste water and sewage treatment plants in Alausa, Abesan, Iponri, Oke-Afa, Amuwo-Odofin built by the Jakande administration have been revived, rehabilitated and are now functional while a lot of local capacity has been built for their sustenance and maintenance.

According to him, work has also commenced on a flagship waste water and sewage treatment plant at Odo - Iya Alaro in Ojota that would define the future of waste water and sewage treatment in Lagos adding, "As for the future, I have no fear. The environment in Lagos will remain protected and sustainable."

Governor Fashola said the Eko Atlantic City Project, the new wall of Lagos on the Atlantic, was already achieving its objective of protecting Lagos from flooding even before the city was fully built pointing out that although the State has witnessed waves as high as seven metres, "the wall and the project just did their jobs".

Pointing out that Lagos has not been spared the impact of rising water levels and flooding, the Governor expressed joy that the massive drainage interventions by his administration across the State had consigned to history flooding in places like the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) at Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lekki Expressway, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Arigbanla in Agege, Iddo and University of Lagos back gate.

"But I know the work is not finished, and I am sure water levels will continue to rise", he said adding, however, that his administration has left behind "a plan, contained in the 2012-2025 Lagos State Developmental Plan and with you the people behind this plan, all will be well", he said.

Thanking the immediate former and the current Environment Commissioners, Dr. Muiz Banire and Mr. Tunji Bello respectively and members of their team for undertaking the journey of environmental conservation with him over the last eight years, Governor Fashola said the Summit, a major driver of the project, has year on year "been built around a theme that seeks to highlight the issues of conservation, mitigation, adaption, vulnerability and their impacts on our daily lives".

"This year's theme, "Celebrating Success Stories, Reviewing Challenges and Setting Future Agenda", will not be different", the Governor said adding that, in his view, the theme provided an opportunity to measure progress, assess what his administration has overcome, and chart a course for the future.

Recounting some of the successes of his administration in the area of environmental conservation, the Governor, who dared critics and cynics to deny what has, so far, been achieved by the tree planting and greening programmes, declared, "After planting over five million trees, creating 196 parks and over 90,000 jobs that did not exist before, and a Parks and Gardens Agency created for maintenance and sustainability, I am proud to acclaim the success of our Greening initiative, not only for its audacity in the face of doubts, but for its sustainability in jobs and economic development".

He said in the area of Energy Conservation, the five Independent Power Plants (IPPs) built by his administration "have led to the reduction of power costs in running some critical public utilities likes schools, court rooms, water works, hospitals and police stations, by close to 40per cent".

Governor Fashola, who said the State depends on the benevolence of its sister Ogun State for its main source of raw water supply, the Ogun River, added that apart from improving the pumping and production capacity of Iju and Adiyan Phase I Waterworks by building the Akute Power Plant, his administration has added 15 new main waterworks of two million gallons a day each and increased the Otta-Ikosi Waterworks to four million gallons.

The Governor said the Dolphin and Lekki Waterworks were now getting more reliable power to produce because of the Lagos Island and Lekki Independent Power Plants adding, "On our own, with your taxes, we have embarked on a 75 Million Gallons per day brand new Adiyan Phase II Waterworks which should be completed in 2016".

"But this is not the end of the journey; our IPPs have used cleaner fuel, mainly gas, and led to the decommissioning of four hundred generators and an annual Cabondioxide (Co2) emission reduction of 1,017,000,000 lbs leading to a cleaner environment by the reduction of pollution", Governor Fashola said adding that 127 public schools and 11 Primary Healthcare Centres are currently benefiting from the installation of solar power to further deepen the gains.

The Governor, who expressed pride over the economic impact of engineers, fitters, technicians and many similar jobs created by these initiatives, said the administration could rightfully claim that it has tapped into the economics of the environment.

He said in the area of solid waste management, construction of transfer loading stations has led to the employment of no less than 15,000 people as street sweepers adding that the PSP waste collection system has also currently employed at least 9,000 people who hitherto were unemployed.

Governor Fashola, who noted that the Waste management system in the State has been much improved, expressed delight that the State has finally lost "the unenviable appellation of one of the dirtiest cities in the world", adding, "We have now become the centre of study for how to manage solid waste, not only within Nigeria but within the West African sub-region".

Other initiatives of his administration which have impacted positively on the environment in the State, the Governor said, include the cooking gas initiative to women and rural communities which, according to him, "has benefited 20,000 people and is gradually reducing the need for cutting trees for firewood" and the Climate Change Clubs in public schools "which are targeting and successfully attracting the next generation to sustainable environmental habits that will help them adapt better than we have done".

Expressing profound gratitude to participants, resource persons and the numerous partners and sponsors, without whom, he noted, "there would have been perhaps no summit", the Governor declared, "The only thing I can add is to make a request, that as I yield the baton of Governor to our Governor-elect, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, you must not drop the baton".

"I urge you to even give more support to him and his team to continue this awareness about the danger to the environment and evolve mitigation and adaption strategies that will help all of us survive and realize the various aspirations that we have", he said adding that the importance of nature conservation lay in the fact that it is humanity that needs the environment and not the other way round. "They will evolve. Can we?", he asked.

Governor Fashola said the greater challenge was for humanity to understand how to conserve nature's gift, to adapt to nature's evolution, to mitigate against the hazards of the environment and to seek for sustainability in all that they do pointing out that the environment plays a crucial role in all aspects of life which humanity could only ignore at its own peril.

Earlier in his welcome address, Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, said the clear goal set by the Fashola administration when it began the Climate Change Summit in 2009 was to use the platform as a principal vehicle to draw attention to the challenges posed to humanity by the phenomenon and to explore all available mitigation and adaptation options to make the State more resilient.

Expressing delight at the tremendous achievements made towards this goal, Bello thanked all those who have supported the initiative over the last seven years including the international organizations and Governments like the representatives of the C40 Cities, the British High Commission, the Canadian Government, Nigerian Environment Study Group/Building Nigeria's response to Climate Change (NEST/BNRCC) and the United Nations Development Programme among numerous others.

Some of the Speakers at this year's Summit include, Professor Ikechukwu Ezemonye, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), University of Benin, Mr. Victor Osu, Doctoral Researcher, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Dr. Akanimo Odon, CEO, Environfly Consulting Limited, Mr. Paramjit Pabby, Director, Dangote Academy, Dr. Odigha Odigha, Environment specialist, Lucinda Fairhurst, Founder and Directing member of Adapt, Sustain, Capacitate Africa, Cape Town, South Africa, Titi Akosa, Executive Director, Centre for 21st century Issues and Mr. Hastings Chikoko, Regional Director for Africa, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, among others.


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