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June 4, 2020
Honorable Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar

Press Briefing By the Honorable Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar on 2020 World Environment Day June 4, 2020

Distinguished Gentlemen of the Press,

I am delighted to welcome you all to this briefing, which is intended to kick-start the activities of the 2020 World Environment Day in Nigeria.

Unfortunately for all nations of the World, this year’s celebration is being held amidst the ravaging effects of the novel COVID-19 pandemic. While we continue to battle with the crisis, as environmentalists, we must continue to contribute our quota in the collective efforts being made to contain the spread of the pandemic.

It is for this reason that the United Nations deem it fit to address biodiversity with the theme ‘‘Time for Nature’’, with a focus on its role in providing the essential infrastructure that supports life on earth and human development. Over one million plant and animal species risk extinction, largely due to human activities; this is a call to action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of nature.

Distinguished Gentlemen of the Press, the theme is indeed very appropriate, considering the fact that Researchers and Scientist have established COVID-19 to be zoonotic. In order to fully address and prevent future pandemics therefore,
we must Restore, Conserve and Protect biodiversity as key antidotes to COVID-19 recovery.

According to UNEP, 2020 is a year for urgency, ambition and action to address the crisis facing nature; it is also an opportunity to more fully incorporate nature-based solutions into global climate action, especially as commemorating the day has become a powerful platform to accelerate, amplify and engage people, communities and governments around the world to take action on critical environmental challenges facing the planet.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has impacted the traditional activities such as tree-planting and public workshops which were undertaken to celebrate the day in the past and has necessitated new approaches in advocacy and communication.

In this regard, the Ministry is using an alternative online platform for delivering the advocacy for this year’s WED. The online event will be hosted on ‘zoom’ with a series of talks as regards our commitment to Biodiversity Conservation.

Iimplore you all to join the conversation by registering to participate in the Webinar coming up tomorrow Friday, as from 11:00 am.

Biodiversity is the foundation for life and there are myriads of benefits amongst which are: livelihoods and sustainable development, improvement and delivery of food security, growth, increase in job opportunity, strengthening of global healthcare support systems.  The Ecosystem is the baseline that holds all of these together. Human interaction with the Ecosystem must therefore remain balanced, otherwise we risk disrupting nature with their consequence as we are seeing with the COVID 19 Pandemic.

Our climate, physical environment and vegetation zones in Nigeria endow our country with a very diverse ecosystem, species of fauna and flora. The forests in Nigeria is currently estimated to extend to around 9.6 million hectares, this we are expanding with added efforts of the Great Green Wall, REDD+ and the Green Bonds supported afforestation Projects amongst several others.

From all this, we must ensure that Post COVID recovery is tied in with our Climate actions and Sustainable Development Goals. We as a Global community have to stay on track with our Climate Targets for us to recover Greener and better for people and planet. Biodiversity remains the answer to a number of sustainable development challenges that we all face. From nature-based solutions to climate, to food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity remains the basis for a sustainable future.

Gentlemen of the Press, the Federal Government is fully committed to the Global Biodiversity Framework under the convention on Biological Diversity, and Nigeria is leading the ECOWAS Member-States on Post 2020 Biodiversity Frame work. It is as a result of this commitment that at the 74thUN General Assembly in New York, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR made a commitment to plant 25million trees to mitigate the effects of Climate Change in Nigeria. This process is being driven by the Ministry of Environment and the agencies under the ministry like the National Great Green Wall Agency.

As part of on-going efforts to meet Mr. President’s directives on planting of 25 million trees and as a symbolic gesture to commemorate the 2020 World Environment Day in the country, I will be in Kaduna tomorrow Friday, where I will hand over 1 million seedlings to the Kaduna State Government. It is our ardent prayer and hope that the seedlings would be properly utilized to mitigate the effect of biodiversity, climate change and improve on our natural habitats.

In addition, the Federal Government had also set up a National Forestry Trust Fund under the forestry Department of the Ministry. In the same vein, the Ministry in partnership with Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) with the support of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), are working together on coalition on nature, referred to as Nature Means Business which will target the private sector and Sub-nationals to act on agreed environmental principles that will guide their business operation to reduce the impact of business on biodiversity loss. It is worthy to note that our development support partner, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program (REDD+) is currently running in 6 states in Nigeria covering all the forest zones. This is a program that conserves already existing forest and enhances carbon stock.

Finally, as a Government, 2020 is indeed a critical year for our commitments to preserve and restore biodiversity. As a nation, Nigeria remains committed to maintaining a healthy environment and safeguarding our ecosystems. The pandemic has shown us that we need to find ways to live in harmony with one another and also with nature. Thank you.

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