Experts have continued to harp on the importance of engaging all strata of the society and enhancing cooperation needed to tackle the looming threat of climate change.
The impact of climate change is life-threatening and is being felt on health, through air pollution, heat waves and risks to food security.
Climate change is real and costing the world dearly. It also poses a huge threat to the upcoming generation. To address this challenge, member-countries of the United Nations came up with the Paris Agreement – a visionary, viable, forward-looking policy framework that sets out exactly what needs to be done to stop climate disruption and reverse its impact.
As a signatory to this agreement, Nigeria has put machinery in motion to effectively reduce carbon emissions by coming up with actionable plans of healthier alternatives to replace the unsustainable ones.
In line with its resolve in this regard, the Federal Government through the Department of Climate Change, a parastatal under the Ministry of Environment in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hosted a regional youth roundtable on climate action to unlock youth innovativeness in Nigeria’s climate action as part of the initiative to strengthen its position as a member-country of the United Nations’ Youth Engagement and Public Mobilisation Track at the upcoming Climate Action Summit in New York in September 2019.
The youth regional hub on climate change held in six geo-political zones of the country, South West, Ibadan, Oyo State; North West, Kano, Kano State; South East, Owerri, Imo State; North Central, Lafia, Nasarawa State; North East, Gombe, Gombe State; South South, Port Harcourt, Rivers State aimed to ensure that young people are actively engaged and integrated in taking action on climate change.
The hub which had 60 youths participating in each zone was coordinated by three non- governmental organisations (NGOs), the International Climate Change Development Initiative (ICCDI), Talentplus Initiative and Health of Mother Earth Foundation respectively.
Speaking to journalists in Owerri, the meeting’s coordinator, HOMEF director, Rev Nnimmo Bassey said the engagement of the Nigerian youths in the search for sustainable solutions to climate change was imperative, as the millennials are now taking the lead in the climate change discussions all over the world, advocating for real climate action to be taken.
He explained that the hub was aimed at harvesting bright ideas from youths in the zone, saying three most outstanding ideas would be selected to represent the region in a national contest to be held in Abuja with the goal of picking out the three overall best contributions from all the regions which would be included in Nigeria’s policy blueprint on climate change.
According to him, the ideas are expected to be handed to President Muhammadu Buhari, who in turn would present same as part of his government’s policy document at the forthcoming United Nations Assembly later in New York.
Earlier in her presentation on ‘Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and Youth Outlooks’, scientific officer of the climate change department, Mrs Dolapo John, who explained that the department is Nigeria’s national focal point to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said it was tasked with the responsibility of coordination and implementation of the agreed Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, among others.
According to her, Nigeria’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs) implementation targets five sectorial plans: Agriculture, oil and gas, transportation, power and industry. The Youth Regional Climate Change Innovation Hub, she further stated, serves as a platform for continuing interface of young people with government and development partners for the implementation of practical climate solutions.
In his remarks, the Imo State Commissioner for Environment, Chief Tony Eze Okere, represented by his chief technical assistant, Ekwulonu Ijeoma, described climate change as basically a human induced phenomenon which has become an undeniable reality that has affected virtually every aspect of life, adding the issue is so serious that it has dominated global discuss in recent years, stressing it calls for positive climate actions at every level of society which will ultimately culminate into expected results.
Highlighting the importance of youth engagement in coming up with actions to mitigate climate change, he said youths by their nature are vibrant and therefore pivotal in the efforts at tackling the menace of climate change.
“They are full of energy and adventure. That is why this roundtable that aims at unlocking youth innovativeness in Nigeria’s climate action is fitting especially at this time when no effort should be spared at tackling this menace. I expect that this regional youth roundtable by its stated objectives will lay a good platform for harvesting and galvanizing the capabilities of Nigerian youths for positive climate actions,” he added.
Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP, a participant from Ebonyi State, Onyinyechi Eze, said it was encouraging that government felt it important to engage the youth in coming up with policy document that would help in the drive to mitigate climate change, stressing, however, it should not end with just engaging the youth but ensuring the solutions proffered at the meeting are actually adopted and implemented.
The states that participated in the South East zone are Enugu, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi and Anambra respectively.
Similarly, speaking at the North Central meeting in Lafia, the state coordinator of ICCDI Africa, Seyifunmi Adebote, said the training aimed to have a forum where young people would be brought on the table with government officials so they could see what young people are doing as well as assure the young people that government was supportive of what they are also doing.
“We had the National Youth Roundtable on Climate Action hosted by the Department of Climate Change which was graced by massive online participation. We got feedback from youths who couldn’t travel all the way or join online and we thought it would be good to decentralize it. So, we went with the few ideas we have harvested from that event to the Abu Dhabi climate meeting and we came back and it was great to see some of our brilliant ideas were exceptional out there. And Nigeria is a member country of the Youth Mobilization and Public Engagement Track of the UN Climate Action Summit which would take place next month. So, the secretary-general decided that enough of talk but to see what people are really doing and see the possibility of scaling them up where possible or reinventing others,” he added.
He further said the hub would ensure brilliant ideas of the youth in every zone are scrutinized by a panel for inclusion in the nation’s policy.
The North Central meeting had participation from Benue, FCT, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, and Plateau respectively.