Addressing Nigeria’s One Planet Summit commitment

one planet summit

Our leaders are joining the rest of the world in a summit on climate change. Nigeria’s One Planet Summit commitment is far better than its commitment to curbing climate change impacts.

According to a report, the European Climate Foundation calls for higher ambition to the Paris Agreement from the global community.

Nearly two years have passed since France’s then-foreign minister, Laurent Fabius declared the agreement. He said: “The Paris agreement for the climate is accepted.” This week, President Emmanuel Macron and the French government will host world leaders and non-state actors for the One Planet Summit.

The purpose of this gathering is to celebrate climate gains made since 2015. And, to boost political and economic support for meeting the goals and targets of the Paris agreement.

Nigeria presence at the one Plant Summit

President Muhammadu Buhari and his aids left for Paris for the summit earlier. The summit will take place tomorrow 12th December 2017. However, attending the summit does not equal Nigeria’s One Planet objectives realization. Seemingly, Nigerian leaders are more committed to conferences, summit, and other international events than committing themselves to implement the outcomes of those events. 

Honestly speaking, there is no need for Mr. President to waste scarce resources on traveling for the summit. A summit that he has no effective structure to implement the outcomes. Attending such a summit, therefore, is a big waste of national treasure.

However, the science of climate change is beyond any reasonable doubt. That is why nations of the world are committed to fighting its effects on the planet. From all indications, Nigeria is only paying lips service to climate change issues in the country. African countries like Ethiopia and Kenya are leading the way in terms of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Their leadership makes them appear more seriously to the international development partners. These countries access far more climate finance than Nigeria because of their commitment.

Climate change effects in Nigeria

Climate change in Nigeria is evident in all parts of the country. The weather pattern is no longer distinct in the country. We now witness very hot weather conditions and high precipitations leading to flooding. This, in turn, ruin crops in parts of the country and created food scarcity. Also, gully erosion is ravaging many communities; as a result of persistent drought. Furthermore, Lake Chad is drying up. Still, the rate of desert encroachment in the north is alarming. Therefore, Nigeria’s One Planet presence should be time for serious business not for making register.

More seriously, climate statistics are against Nigeria. The country ranks very low on the climate risk index. This should be a wake-up call to the Nigerian government. At this point, rather than just attending climate summits commitment, addressing climate change is more important. Nigeria scores 111.83 that makes the country rank 122 out of 182 countries.

In addition, from all indications, Nigeria is obviously not ready for climate change adaptation and mitigation. The country ranks 170 of 191 countries in the climate change readiness index. If the ranking for readiness is gotten by attending climate conferences and summits, Nigeria will rank first. Therefore, our commitment to climate summits and conferences is not what will adapt to or mitigate climate change challenges we are facing.

Getting Ready for Climate Change in Nigeria

Every country or territory that is a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate in 2015 has commenced its readiness by submitting its nationally determined contribution, which Nigeria did.

Nigeria made an unconditional commitment to the Agreement of 20 percent below business as usual (BAU) that is conditional on international support. Meanwhile, Nigeria cannot get international support on climate finance or climate-related technical assistance without committing itself to create enablers through which international supports can easily thrive.

Relevant human resource

One of the major enablers the government can put in place is making the relevant institutions effective. The reality in the country agencies is a failure to engage the right people but Nigeria’s One Planet commitment is second to null. I had a funny experience a few months ago with the Federal Ministry of Environment’s  Forestry Department when I went there to make some inquiries on the REED+ program. I was surprised that the majority of the staff on sit did not have an idea of what the program is all about. Therefore, relevant institutions need to be filled with people who are passionate and skilled in climate change. That is one way to build a strong climate institution.

Innovative data

In addition to efficient human capital for climate-related institutions in Nigeria, innovative data collection should be embarked on by the government. It is good to see how the National Bureau of Statistics is aligning with other Ministries, Departments, and Agencies on data collection for measuring Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

However, more innovative measures like satellite Imagery, mobile network call records, crowd-sourcing, smart meter technologies, and data mining need to be taken and included in national databases for easy access for concerned citizens and development experts. In sum, there are other things like being transparent and accountable and enhancing citizen participation in climate policy implementation that the government can do.

It is rational to say that Nigeria leaders should not take attendance at international conferences and summits as an end. As far as the One Planet Summit is concerned, both Chinese and Indian leaders are not attending and just 50 leaders of 197 countries and territories that sign up Paris Climate Accord in 2015 are attending. Many of these absentees from the summit are doing better than Nigeria in climate financing and climate change readiness. Therefore, let’s change our focus from meetings to effective implementation of our climate agreement and policy.

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