The Minister of the Environment, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, has pledged support for policy implementation towards reversal of unsustainable management practices from human induced factors causing biodiversity loss in Africa.
Abubakar was quoted, in a statement issued on Sunday by Mr Oladapo Soneye, spokesman of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), as making the call while declaring open a virtual regional consultative webinar on the environment.
Organised in collaboration with NCF, Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and other partners, the webinar was moderated by Prof. Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, from the University of Ghana, and ran under the theme “Strengthening the African Position Ahead of the Open Ended Working Group-3 (OEGW-3) Meeting”.
The minister said that the African continent was experiencing catastrophic biodiversity loss, resulting from human-induced threats arising from unsustainable management practices.
He added that the West African sub-region was mostly impacted by this biodiversity loss while it experienced substantial economic loss because of this.
“These losses are becoming irreversible with the rate at which biodiversity is being decimated, habitat converted or degraded.
“Deforestations across the sub-region is among the highest in the world, increased uncontrolled farmland expansion and illegal wildlife trade among others.
“The livelihood of West Africans is being threatened daily due to unsustainable practices, strong biodiversity policy and laws.
“Other threats include weak enforcement, lack of environmental awareness and weak political will for sustaining biodiversity conservation gains as well as an uncoordinated sub-regional effort among others.
“As a government, we will continue to support and encourage other ECOWAS Member States to develop appropriate mechanisms to strengthen enforcement of biodiversity law.
“We will also mobilise means of implementation towards the developed biodiversity action plans,’’ the minister said.
Abubakar added that the government would provide required support to ensure continuous coordination of the sub-regional consultations on biodiversity while promoting strong regional collaboration among parties towards achieving the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
Also, Mrs Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biodiversity, said it was worthy to recognise important leadership roles that Africa had played for several years in the area of biodiversity.
Mrema expressed hope that the consultations for inclusive and cooperative spirit at all levels would help to forge new global frameworks to combat biodiversity loss.
She added that the UN Convention would also stop the destruction of ecosystems while supporting survival and the wellbeing of all life on earth.
According to her, impacts of COVID-19 should awaken renewed sense of urgency to step up efforts to conserve and protect biodiversity and nature, as these will be essential for avoiding future pandemics.
In his remarks, Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director-General of NCF said the ECOWAS CBD consultation was first of its kind in the sub-region.
Aminu-Kano said it was necessary to address the challenges of climate change, loss in biodiversity, deforestation and other environmental problems.
“NCF pledges to work with all colleagues in other West African countries, leading national organisation to take the lead from the government and translate it to the grassroots,’’ he said.
Ms Alice Ruhweza, Africa Regional Director, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said the coming together of Africans to discuss and provide solutions to biodiversity challenges will go a long way to impact the continent’s environment.
Development partners, intergovernmental organisations and environmental NGOs like African Union Commission; African Development Bank; African Group of Negotiators on Biodiversity; Canadian Embassy; German Embassy; US Embassy and British High Commission made recommendations.
Others were the Australia High Commission; United Nations Environmental Programmes; AUDA-NEPAD, SADC, CEEAC, EAC; Birdlife International among others.