At the recent UNESCO summit on ecosystem restoration, stakeholders reflected on the deteriorating relationship with nature and reaffirmed biodiversity as fundamental for human health and sustainable development. HELEN OJI reports.
The âUnited Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restorationâ aims to prevent, stop and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean, in accordance with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The combined attitudes and lifestyles have dramatically changed the land across the world. Man has cleared forests and other natural lands to create spaces for urban areas, settlements, agriculture and industries.
In doing so, the overall space for wildlife has been reduced and the safe natural spaces between humans and animals have been degraded. There is a need for all to stand up and take responsibility for restoring this safe space for human nature by taking responsible action to conserve biodiversity and restore lost resources.
Recover the ecosystem
According to the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon,
the decade requires scientists, and indeed everyone, to work together to recover lost ecosystems and biodiversity in order to build back better.
Kallon added that Building Back Better means protecting biodiversity to put us on the path to sustainability. However, to achieve this, bold interdependent actions are needed on several fronts to address and eliminate the drivers of biodiversity loss.
âIntegrated and holistic approaches to improve human livelihoods and protect natural resources and ecosystems in a sustainable way are essential,â he said.
The United Nations system is implementing a number of activities aimed at protecting Nigeria’s ecosystem and biodiversity, as well as tackling the consequences orchestrated by Covid-19 and climate change, among others. âThese activities include reducing the incidence of out-of-school children to help Nigeria build its human capital, engaging young people in sustainable peacebuilding efforts and creating solutions to the worst impacts of Covid-19. . “
Protect the lands and seas of the world
Minister of State for the Environment Sharon Ikeazor also said the global loss of biodiversity threatens the security of global food supplies and the livelihoods of millions of people, including indigenous peoples and local communities, particularly in the African region.
âProtected areas are the cornerstones of conservation. The world is facing a global crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and the good news is that it is not too late to reverse current trends if conservation efforts are stepped up and protected areas expanded.
However, through the Ministry of Environment, Nigeria joined the Global Ocean Alliance and the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People calling for the protection of 30% of the world’s land and seas by 2030, in order stop the accelerated loss of species and protect vital ecosystems.
The federal government recently said it was firmly committed to taking bold action to reverse biodiversity loss and mitigate climate change.
Ikeazor pointed out that in accordance with the conservation policy, Nigeria has identified and treated more protected areas with the approval of UNESCO, obtained three more biosphere reserves, namely: (a) the Biosphere Reserve of Oban; (b) Okwango Biosphere Reserve, both located in Cross Rivers State; and (c) the Hadejia-Nguru-Bade Biosphere Reserve, straddling the states of Yobe and Jigawa.
The designation of these biosphere reserves aims to reverse various ecological changes and disturbances caused by the removal of species of flora, displacement of species of fauna and alternation of the natural ecosystem, while improving livelihoods indigenous communities in a sustainable manner. . Biosphere reserves should have a positive impact not only on the environment, but also on social, economic and cultural aspects, in particular the well-being of peoples. This commendable program is essential to foster the harmonious integration of people and nature for sustainable development through participatory dialogue, knowledge sharing, poverty reduction and improvement of human well-being, respect for values cultural values ââand the capacity of society to cope with change.
Culture, heritage and science combined
Also speaking, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said that the erosion of biodiversity is no longer a hypothesis, but a fact that can already be seen and felt in everyday life.
Azoulay noted that climate and biodiversity are inextricably linked: when one suffers, the other also suffers as Nigeria knows all too well, especially on the shores of Lake Chad.
âWith this imminent collapse, not only human survival is in danger, but also the beauty, poetry, diversity of the world and this collapse is not inevitable: there is still time to make peace with the planet.
âWe have less than 10 years to achieve the goal that the United Nations wants to set: that 30% of the planet is covered with protected areas. It is also the object of our action in the Lake Chad basin, with the Biopalt project, which aims to restore ecosystems and social links by relying on the combined forces of culture, heritage and science. .
That local and indigenous populations, custodians of 80% of ecosystems, have so much to teach us. 50 years later, this vision has become reality, as 275 million people now live in UNESCO’s 714 biosphere reserves in 129 countries, âhe said.