Nigeria Appeals For Urgent Ambitious Global Response To Biodiversity Crisis

Minister of State for the Environment, Dr. Iziak Adekunle Salako on Monday, on behalf of Nigeria and it’s sister ECOWAS States, called on the international community to be more ambitious in its response to the biodiversity crisis.

The Minister made the appeal in his opening remarks at the ECOWAS Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, (BBNJ) Coordinating meeting in Abuja.

The Minister said: “Through the urgent appeal, we had identified several measures as essential, including the global designation of 30% of land and oceans areas as protected by 2030, the conclusion of a robust new high-seas treaty, the establishment of highly and fully protected areas covering 30% of the global ocean which prohibit environmentally damaging activities, and a global commitment towards immediately halting human-induced extinction of wild species, among others.

“Today, only 7% of the world’s oceans are protected, and there are no comprehensive legal mechanisms in place to protect the high seas and the deep seabed areas, the shared international areas of oceans that lie beyond national jurisdictions and that include almost 70% of the global ocean.

“Our oceans require strong protection that can only be achieved through a new treaty for the conservation and management of marine life in the high seas.

“This treaty must ensure that human activities are managed to prevent significant adverse impacts, with vigorous oversight mechanisms and provisions to establish fully and highly protected MPAs in the high seas.”i

The Minister said that with the adoption of the high-seas treaty last June, we are one step closer to achieving our goals.

He said that in September this year, at the High Ambition for the High Seas event on the sideline of UNGA, Nigeria joined other 22 countries to symbolically sign a commitment to ratify the BBNJ treaty.

He said we must now rally to ratify the new high-seas treaty promptly so it can come into force.

He said: “We are proud that through Nigeria’s rallying efforts, the 55 member States of the African Union have reached a consensus to support ratifying at the earliest feasible date, the new the high-seas treaty, as enshrined in Addis Ababa Declaration adopted at the 19th ordinary session of Africa Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN).

“Three months since the 19th AMCEN, we should move from saying earliest feasible date to a more specific period for Africa to ratify the BBNJ treaty.

“ECOWAS can lead the way in this direction”.

Salako said the meeting provided a pathway to support ECOWAS countries in reaching this important goal.

He said: “Prompt ratification of the high-seas treaty and effective engagement in its implementation is an urgent priority for the preservation of our oceans.

“We have a shared responsibility to act and protect the oceans because we all share in the benefits provided by our oceans and because we all share in the harm that comes when degraded coastal and marine ecosystems threaten the physical, economic, food security of local communities, and multinational businesses.

“Failing to protect our oceans would be catastrophic. If we fail to act, the impacts for people will be profound.”

He urged the participants to work together in the next few days to make swift, real progress towards setting a path for prompt ratification of the high-seas treaty in the ECOWAS region and on the African Continent.

Salako said: “We must act to protect our oceans now, and we must be bold if we have any hope of preserving our planet for our people and our future generation.

“Let us lead the way together for nature! ”

He said the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Environment was committed to ratifying BBNJ treaty in line with the focus of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to pursue development by unlocking the energy and natural resources of the nation in a sustainable manner.

Moussa Leko, Director, Environment Department, ECOWAS said that the meeting was a natural follow-up to other coordination meetings organized by ECOWAS to support its members States in their joint efforts promoting ambition for the world’s response to the biodiversity crisis at CITES and at CBD.

He said that having carefully reviewed the outcomes of both the CBD CoP15 meeting, and the CITES CoP19 meeting, he could directly see that West Africa was a leading voice for biodiversity protection globally.

He said: “Not only that, but our region is demonstrating collaboration, expertise, and strength in its advocacy for our natural heritage.

“The ambition of ECOWAS countries has been instrumental in securing positive outcomes from the CITES and CBD meetings and we see our positions clearly reflected in the decisions adopted by the global community.

“The task upon us today is to ensure that the vital ECOWAS Appeal to the Global community, calling for an Ambitious Global Response to the Biodiversity Crisis continues to be heard loud and clear.

“This appeal represents a fundamental truth, which is that we must take robust action now, to protect our planet. We must urgently protect biodiversity in order to preserve ecosystem services vital to human well-being, and the livelihood of our local communities.

“Losing these services or standing idle while our communities go impoverished and hungry would result in an unimaginable future. It cannot be considered an option.”

He encouraged them to continue expanding their coordination to ensure the ECOWAS region was provided all the tools it needed to implement an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework and an ambitious CITES agenda.

He said: “We are ready to strengthen and expand our protected areas, we are ready to protect and recover our wild species. We are ready to act to protect our biodiversity, our ecosystem services, our magical and unique environments. ”

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