‘Robust economy, financial system critical to reversing nature’s depletion’

Alice Ruhweza
Alice Ruhweza

To achieve the global nature conservation and biodiversity across African countries, Africa Executive Director for Wide World Fund for Nature (WWF), Alice Ruhweza has said the transformation of the world’s economic and financial systems remains critical to reversing nature’s depletion and achieving SDGs.

Ruhweza also said the continent must strengthen international mechanisms including engagement of local communities to protect and restore nature. The recommendations are especially important for countries like Nigeria where oil exploration has made negative impact on nature.

Nigeria, having the fourth highest deforestation rate in the world, may according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, continue to lose over 400,000 hectares of land per year while major natural resources are projected to disappear in the next 30 years.

Indeed, the Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) had also estimated that about 1.89 million barrels of petroleum were spilled in the Niger Delta between 1976 and 1996 out of a total of 2.4 million barrels spilled in 4,835 incidents.

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) on biodiversity seeks to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Noting that nature and biodiversity in Africa continues to decline, particularly due to d human activities, Ruhweza said in Tweet Chat hosted by the International Support Network for African Development (ISNAD-Africa) that there was need for African countries to work together to achieve projected objectives aimed at protecting the continent’s nature.

Speaking on the need to sustaining the natural biodiversity of the planet, she stated that biodiversity was not only about saving animals or habitats but included sustaining access to food and water to help the world cope with the worst effects of climate change .

The Director also stressed on the need for people to halt and reverse the unprecedented loss of biodiversity and put nature on a path to recovery for the benefits of all people and the planet by 2030.

She stated that though a strategic plan for biodiversity was adopted globally in 2010 by Parties to convention on biodiversity, progress in Africa lags behind, especially in the area of improving knowledge and financial resources

However, Ruhweza disclosed that over 80 per cent of countries in Africa indicated progress towards on updating National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans. She said: “Africa is making progress on target one, designating protected areas, target eleven, ratifying the Nagoya protocol on access and benefit sharing, implementing values into national and strategic plans, target 17, and respecting traditional knowledge and values of indigenous peoples.

While Nigeria is looking to implement SDGs and remained a signatory to to the Paris Agreement, Ruhweza said there was need to strengthen global targets and mechanisms to protect and restore nature by 2030.

Noting that indigenous peoples and local communities are the traditional guardians of nature and play a crucial role, she stressed that their involvement remain critical to achieving projected objectives.

To her, Civil Society Organisations could build support biodiversity among their stakeholders networks and help others understand how it advances their advocacies across diverse themes including communities, development, environment, faith , humanitarian aid , human rights, indigenous peoples, youth, gender equity and women empowerment.

“CSOs also play a crucial role in serving as a bridge between communities and government and providing an effective delivery mechanism for much needed services. People can be strong advocate for a new deal for nature within their communities, and with political leaders, defending, sustaining and restoring nature; and taking part in activities ranging from local initiatives to global events,” Ruhweza said.

Source: The Guardian, Nigeria

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