The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), in partnership with the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, re-examined the menace of single-use plastic at the 12th edition of the annual “Walk for Nature”, with the theme: ‘Plastic Pollution: The Enemy of Our Development Agenda’. 

 

The 3.5km march through Inner and Outer Marina had over 600 participants donning t-shirts bearing the theme of the event. The procession was led by the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Environmental Services, Mrs Belinda Odeneye and the Chairman National Executive Council of NCF Chief Ede Dafinone. 

 

The Commissioner, in his keynote address revealed that although plastic has many valuable uses, people have become addicted to single-use such as straws, Styrofoam etc. he said “Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year.”

 

He added: “The mounting pressure on nature’s resources, dwindling wildlife, rising world population, due to pollution, particularly plastic arising from anthropogenic activities, has made a shift in attitude towards the environment a necessity. The rich ecosystem in Lagos State, which is home to a variety of aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals, are under serious threat due to plastic pollution.”

 

The Commissioner appealed to Lagosians to slow the flow of plastics at its source, improve the way plastic waste is managed and take responsibility for a sustainable environment.

 

Chief Philip Asiodu, President, Board of Trustees, NCF in his welcome address stated that this year’s theme was selected primarily to create more awareness about the need for Lagosians to collectively tackle the menace of plastic pollution. 

 

He said: “Most of the plastics are carried through rivers and lagoons and end up in the ocean with over 8 million tons yearly. If we continue at this rate, scientists have predicted that by the year 2050, we could have more plastic in our oceans than fish. Nigeria has been reported as one of the countries that generate high volumes of plastic waste and with the least ability to adequately manage plastic waste. It is currently estimated that Nigeria generates about 2.8 million kg/day of plastic wastes out of which 81% is mismanaged.” 

 

He added: “It is worthy to note that Nigeria in 2013 subscribed to the international ban on single-use plastics but that has not been enforced in Nigeria. I take this opportunity to call on the government to start the enforcement of the ban nationwide.”

 

In his speech, the Senior Special Assistant on Drainage and Water Resources, Engr. Joe Igokwe appreciated NCF for the continued partnership on the environment. He revealed that the administration of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu is set to tackle plastic pollution and other environmental challenges headlong.

 

Chief Ede Dafinone while giving the vote of thanks, emphasised the need to embrace the identified simple solution to the challenge which is ‘reuse, reduce and recycle.’

 

He acknowledged the support of corporate organisations such as Chevron Nigeria Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, IHS Towers, Fan Milk Nigeria Plc, Mobile Classroom, Nestle Waters and others

 

The event was attended by NCF Council Members, representatives of sponsors, students and the media.

 

Relevant government agencies were present to provide support services – these include Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS), and Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC). The Police, supported by the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps were equally on ground. 

 

Lagos State Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources commemorated the International Day of Biodiversity (IDB) with the theme “Our Solutions are in Nature” through a webinar on Thursday, 28th May, 2020.

 

The International Day for Biological Diversity is celebrated each year to raise global awareness about the importance of protecting biological resources and the global biodiversity that shapes our environment, not only the various species of plants, animals and microorganisms around us, but also the genetic diversity of each of them, as well as the great variety of ecosystems that make up our planet.

 

Speaking at the conference on “Conserving Wetlands For Sustainable Urban Livelihood”, Mr. Adedamola Ogunsesan, Project Manager, Lekki Conservation Centre said that wetlands provide a diversity of ecosystem services; provisioning, regulatory, supporting and cultural services which are essential for the human society. This is particularly necessary in cases where large urban agglomerations exist.

 

He revealed further that wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt-water, including areas of marine within the depth no more than six(6) meters at low tide.

 

He portrayed wetlands as a source with the capability of providing humans with freshwater, ensure food supply, sustain biodiversity, protect against flooding, and store carbondioxide. Wetlands remain a major source of employment globally, they are also ideally placed to showcase truly sustainable livelihoods.

 

He said “Wetlands provide many ecosystem services. However, many of the services are not traded in regular economic markets, and thus have no observable prices. This fact contributes to the continued degradation of many wetlands and natural sites around the state. Moreover, competition for land uses and the societal demands for urbanization and development have exacerbated the pressures on wetlands”

 

In her presentation on “The Role Of Nature In Ecosystem Sustainability”, Dr. Fisayo Jerome, Fisheries Resources Department, Marine Biology Section, Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) defined nature as a phenomenon of the natural world, things that are not made by human, examples include air, water, animal, and weather and so on. While Ecosystem is defined as a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. Examples of the ecosystem are; Aquatic (Marine and Fresh), Terrestrial (Desert, Savanna and Forest) and Human etc. She sees Sustainability as the study of how natural systems function, remain diverse and produce everything it needs for the ecology to remain in balance.

 

She highlighted the importance of nature and ecosystem as the provision of habitat to wild plants and animals; supporting different food chains and food webs; regulating essential ecological processes and support lives; and involving in the recycling of nutrients between biotic and abiotic components.

 

She said further that “Nature sustain the integrity of the ecosystem by maintaining ecological processes and a diverse community of organisms. For example, protect the water, reduce logging and reduce chlorofluorocarbon”.

 

She, however, identified some factors affecting the integrity of the ecosystems as loss of biodiversity, climate change, deforestation and habitat loss, overexploitation, invasive species and pollution.

 

Mr. Ogunsesan invited stakeholders to collaborate with the Lagos State Government to provide the following solutions: inventory and documentation of wetlands resources; wetlands valuation; participatory management of wetlands; urban plans inclined towards sustainable wetlands; wetlands restoration; develop RAMSAR designation roadmap and develop wetlands conservation masterplan.

 

Dr. Jerome proposed that for the ecosystem to be fully restored, the following must be done: repairing and replanting wetlands, creek beds, forestland, and other habitats; eradicating invasive species; replacing invasive species with native species; enforcing environmental laws; monitoring lagoons and wetlands habitats and preparing reports on findings to government authorities; and also the protection of vulnerable and endangered species in the marine environment.

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Tunji Bello, Honourable Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Lagos State made a clarion call for action to conserve biodiversity towards preserving and protecting the earth, as biodiversity represents a critical part of the natural environment.

 

He made this appeal at a virtual conference to mark the 2020 World Environment Day with the theme, “Biodiversity: Time for Nature” held on Friday, 5th June 2020.

 

Mr. Bello said, “The environment must not be destroyed for development and survival, and biodiversity should be preserved because of its wildlife and natural attributes which would attract people to the location.”

 

Mr. Bello further revealed that the Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources is willing to collaborate with stakeholders in a meaningful engagement that will bring restoration to wetlands, coastal areas and other biodiversity.

 

Dr. Joseph Onoja, Technical Director, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) in his presentation at the webinar on “Engagement of Citizens, CBOs and Private Sectors in Nature Management and Protection" emphasised that plants and animals are an integral part of the existence of humans. Nature has created a balance for the enjoyment and overall wellbeing of humans. However, human through his activities has interrupted and disrupted that balance. This disruption has come with its attendant negative consequences making life unbearable for humans, such as pandemic.

 

He revealed that generally, nature provides citizens with the most essentials of life such as shelter, clothing and food. He said further that nature provides protection to communities by preventing flooding, preventing landslides, preventing wind disasters and providing clean water.

 

He said, “For any meaningful engagement for the protection and proper management of nature to occur, there is need for citizens, Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and private sectors to understand the importance of nature.”

 

Dr. Onoja added that private sectors and business owners should join in the effort to restore the environment. This becomes necessary because nature is the number one investment capital as it provides raw materials and stability for businesses. 

 

Prof. Adeola Animashaun, Director, Centre for Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development (CESSED), Lagos State University, added her voice as a guest and said that COVID-19 had impacted negatively on the sustainable development goal. She urged Nigerians to do everything possible to preserve nature and avoid the release of carbon monoxide that has continued to impact climate negatively.

 

 

 

 

 

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