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.






The Federal Ministry of the Environment in collaboration with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) commemorated the World Environment Day with the theme “Biodiversity” on Friday, 5th June, 2020 through a webinar. 


World Environment Day is a global event used to create awareness for the protection of the environment, as well as call for actions to promote environmental sustainability. 


In her opening remark, Chief (Mrs.) Sharon Ikeazor, Honourable Minister of State for the Environment reminded everyone of Nigeria’s rich biodiversity which include rainforests and mangrove forests on the Atlantic coast in the South; and the Savannah, bordering the Sahara in the North.


She said: “Biodiversity plays vital and diverse roles in our economy, ecology and social lives. It is our source of food, fibre, commercial products, medicine, agriculture and industrial processes.”


She observed that biodiversity in Nigeria is seriously threatened by factors such as land use, agriculture; over-exploitation of natural resources; environmental pollution; climate change and poaching. 


She revealed that these threats have caused biodiversity loss which has led the nation into loss of livelihoods, making poor people become even more impoverished; spread of diseases (zoonosis); reduced food production; migration and human conflict.


“Therefore, immediate attention should be focused on saving what remains of our biodiversity in the country, so as to bring sustained benefits to Nigerians.” She concluded.


Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director General of NCF in his presentation titled ‘Biodiversity and Pandemics’ revealed that approximately 60%-76% of all Emerging Infectious Diseases are zoonotic including recent outbreaks and pandemics that threaten global health and economies, such as COVID-19, SARS, MERS, avian influenza, Ebola and HIV.


He advised that people should ensure that the distance between wildlife & biodiversity and man is appropriate because people who carry wildlife bring the exposure that leads to pandemic. He identified pangolin as one of the vectors of pandemic which people illegally trade in Nigeria. He urged conservationists in their campaign to target behavioural change and create public awareness on preference for consumption of wildlife meat which is posing threat of pandemic. He added that fighting corona virus disease is like the first round of the fight and if all concerned don’t tackle conservation challenges, climate change and other issues are waiting for everyone.


He added that government and other stakeholders must tackle deforestation and other land-use changes, illegal and poorly regulated wildlife trade, climate change and so on.


He emphasised the need for reforestation. He said, "The objective of this reforestation is to increase the carbon sink and also respond to the urgent need for reforestation in a country that has lost about 96% of its forest cover."


The keynote speaker, Dr Muhammad Mahmood, the Honourable Minister of the Environment, stated that studies have shown that flora and fauna species are going extinct at an alarming rate which is being compounded by climate change. Speaking further, he said, a considerable number of environmental goods and services that were taken for granted are undergoing serious threats with a significant damaging consequence for ecosystems, economies and livelihoods.


He opined that the conservation of biodiversity and its services is immensely important for human well-being, global economic development and poverty alleviation. To halt biodiversity loss is not only an environmental issue but happens to be a social development, equity and human survival issue. 


“Transformational change is required to achieve the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, including changes in behaviour and decision-making at all levels and in all sectors,” he said.


Chief Ede Dafinone, Chairman, National Executive Council, NCF remarked that NCF believes that systematic and structural changes are necessary for biodiversity conservation. NCF has been in the forefront of biodiversity conservation through advocacy, environmental education and conservation projects such as the Green Recovery Nigeria (GRN) initiative that seeks to restore Nigeria’s lost forest. He added that we all have the responsibility to live by example and clean up the environment.


Some of the participants are Ms. Katherine Kaetzer-Hodson, Environment, Science, Technology and Health Officer, US Embassy in Nigeria, Mr. Adekola Rasaq, Deputy Director, Department of Forestry, Federal Ministry of Environment among others. 


The webinar was moderated by Mr. Demola Ajagbe, Regional Director, BirdLife Africa. 





Network of Young Catholic Carers for the Environment in Nigeria (NYCCEN) in collaboration with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) commemorated 2020 World Environment Day (WED) and 5th anniversary of ‘Laudato Si’ on Thursday, 11th June 2020 through a webinar.


In her welcome address, Dame Marie Fatayi-Williams, NYCCEN Initiator, expressed displeasure at the rate humans activities continue to pose a great threat to the environment. She said, “This  is a time to be sorry for our cruelty to creation for our plundering and overexploitation of her riches, consumption habits and lifestyle that has led to the loss of biodiversity, pollution, climate change, disease and poverty; making the earth one huge dumpsite which has become an existential threat for all.”


She applauded the Pope’s Laudato Si’ initiative which has spurred interest and participation from the youths; especially the plastic recycling to bricks, which will help put money in the hands of the poor and unemployed youths.


His Grace, Most Revd. (Dr). Adewale Martins, Archbishop, Metropolitan See of Lagos and Grand Patron NYCCEN expressed his appreciation in the collaboration between NYCCEN and NCF in mobilizing the teeming youth to care for the environment that is on the verge of collapse.


He said that more than ever before the youth should be engaged to achieve conservation of the environment that nurtures the life of all of creation.


“It will be more encouraging when we see more organisations taking up the challenge to work with the youth to restore what we have lost in the environment just like what NYCCEN and NCF are doing” he urged.


In his presentation titled ‘All Hands on Deck: Building an Inter-faith Youth Movement for the Environment in Nigeria’, the Director General of NCF, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano revealed how NCF engaged Nigerian Youths in 2019 to combat climate change. He said: “In 2019, NCF embarked on a nationwide youth advocacy on climate action which involved over 1000 youths to call on urgent action from government, business, individual etc.”


He said further that youth comprising the secondary school pupils, tertiary students, religious groups and CSOs are constantly being engaged in environmental education, awareness campaign, waste management and beach clean-up exercises, tree planting, recycling & upcycling of plastics waste and many others. 


“NCF is developing Youth Action Manual on Climate Change for the youth between ages 5-25yrs to guide their effort.” He added. 


Prof. Rosemary Egonmwan, Head, Conservation Unit, Dept. of Zoology, UNILAG in her presentation; ‘Creating Awareness of Nigeria’s Dwindling Biodiversity Among Young Catholics in Nigeria’ stated that robust biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are essential in any country for sustainable development and human well-being. It is therefore very important to conserve biodiversity and use its components in a sustainable manner in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 


“Apart from serving as a source of inspiration, information, tourism and recreation, Nigeria’s biodiversity also satisfies scientific and educational pursuits.” She added.


She said “Humans have moral and ethical responsibility to care for life on planet earth. Therefore, deliberate loss of biodiversity is an indication that we are not using the planet or our portion of the planet sustainably.”


She concluded that the endemic species such as Ibadan Malimbe, Niger Delta red colobus, Nigeria-Cameroun Chimpanzee and other wildlife will go into extinction if not conserved. This means that the upcoming generations will only see them on the pages of history textbooks and not in reality.


Revd. Fr. Joshtrom  Kureethadam, Coordinator, Ecology and creation, Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development who shared a 7-year action plan of ‘Laudato Si’ Initiative revealed that actions will commence from families and runs through primary and secondary schools, universities, Catholic churches, hospitals, businesses, farms and religious groups.


“The essence of the action plan is to make communities around the world to be totally sustainable in the spirit of the integral ecology of ‘Laudato Si’. He affirmed.


The Minister of State for Environment, Chief (Mrs.) Sharon Ikeazor remarked that faith-based organisations have an unparalleled reach and mobilization power because of the sheer numbers of their devotees in every corner of Nigeria. She believed that faith-based organisations have enormous potentials to influence national and global policy and tip the scales positively on the global movement that is needed to address environmental challenges.


She added that young people also are socially conscious active agents of change, responsible idealists and well versed in technology to combat environmental crises Nigeria is facing. She said youth activism and engagement can bring about important social and environmental change that could sustain the earth.

“The Federal Ministry of Environment is working and will continue to work with the youth in our efforts to restore, protect and conserve Mother Nature. Most of our ecological interventions are community-based.” She concluded.

NYCCEN was established by catholic youths who are passionate about the environment. They engage other young Catholics in using available means and platforms to campaign for the restoration of harmony between man and earth. 


‘Laudato Si’ is the second encyclical of Pope Francis that calls all people of the world to take swift and unified global action against consumerism and irresponsible development, environmental degradation and global warming.  


Other participants include Rev. Fr. Maduabuchi Leo, Administrator, St. Francis Catholic Secondary School, Idimu, Lagos; Mrs Ngozi Iwere, Trustee, NYCCEN; Mr. Augustine Orji, President, Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria (CYON), Ave Maria Parish, Lekki among others.





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