Akwa Ibom Tackling Impact Of Climate Change With Panache | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Akwa Ibom Tackling Impact Of Climate Change With Panache

Posted: Jul 4, 2016 at 6:06 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Don Okere

A commentator, while sharing his experience at an energy summit, said issues of climate change and the environment will have to be taken more seriously if the country is to see real development.

He said that a large part of the discussion was on energy, but, surprisingly, a larger part of the conversation was on climate change and the environment, noting that the world is slowly but surely coming to the realisation that we have to manage our environment.

In this part of our world, the environment has not been made an important priority, but gladly Akwa Ibom in pursuing job creation, economic growth and avenues to prosperity is equally pursuing sustainable development for its people. It is making a lot of efforts to create a sustainable environment.

To this end, it has concluded arrangements to host the first Akwa Ibom State Climate Change and Clean Energy Mega Summit/Expo. The summit/expo is being organised by the state’s Ministry of Environment & Mineral Resources in collaboration with Water Safety Initiative Foundation, Africa Clean Energy Summit and the Environment Communications Limited.

Iniobong Ene Essien, Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources, said the summit will anchor an all-stakeholders’ brainstorming and solution-seeking sessions that would benefit the human and natural environment in Nigeria and beyond, noting that it will be a gathering of experts, intellectuals and major stakeholders in the environment, in strategic and high-level sessions to address salient issues, generate new ideas and approaches as well as chart a roadmap to combat the scourge of climate change in Nigeria in particular the Niger Delta as a sub-national post COP 21 implementation agenda.

Essien said that the summit with the theme ‘Charting a roadmap for sustainable environment and creation of green jobs’ in Akwa Ibom State will hold from July 26 to July 28, 2016 with a special golf tournament for climate change (‘Play Golf for Climate Change’) on July 30 at the Le’Meridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

Climate change refers to an increase in average global temperatures. Natural events and human activities are believed to be contributing to an increase in average global temperatures. This is caused primarily by increases in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). Nigeria is experiencing adverse climate conditions with negative impacts on the welfare of millions of people.

Persistent droughts and flooding, off season rains and dry spells have sent growing seasons out of orbit, on a country dependent on a rain fed agriculture. Alarm bells are ringing with lakes drying up and a reduction in river flow in the arid and semi arid region. The result is fewer water supplies for use in agriculture, hydro power generation and other uses. Researchers say Africa will be worst hit by the effects of climate change which Nigeria is part of it. That is why Akwa Ibom deserves commendation for this lead it has taken to address the issue holistically, especially as analysts said that Akwa Ibom wants to tap the advantages in climate change to create jobs and industrialise its state.

Essien said: “Scientific evidences are conclusive that the earth is warming and climate is changing with serious and potentially damaging consequences. Climate change is aggravating the environmental issues such as deforestation and degradation, freshwater shortage, food security and air and water pollution. Projected increases in extreme climate events as well as more changes in the weather patterns may further threaten the means of livelihood in the face of inaction.”

He said “in Akwa Ibom State, climate change is already affecting various sectors of the state economy with serious biophysical and socio-economic impacts. Many local communities in the state are in the climate frontline struggling daily to adapt to the changing climate. Some coastal communities in Akwa Ibom State are already relocating due to sea level rise and excessive flooding – climate change is the defining issue of the 21st Century.”

The commissioner added that “in responding to the climate change challenge, the administration of His Excellency, the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, has proactively put in place measures aimed at tackling the impact of climate change in the state. Additionally, the government has also set-up the Akwa Ibom State Technical Committee on Climate Change (STCCC) to drive the process of climate change activities.”

Essien noted that some of the objectives of the summit include creating awareness on the causes and consequences of climate change as well as sharing world best practices in mitigation and adaptation measures; to encourage active participation and involvement of stakeholders on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the region as well as building synergy among institutions on climate change issues; to forge common ground for multi-sectoral intervention for climate change and sustainable development; and to strategically reposition the region on the path of low carbon economy and to tap into the national and global opportunities of climate change.

To show its keenness that a conducive environment is a major driver of industrialisation, Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources has been in the forefront of the fight against environmental degradation and other environmental issues capable of mitigating against the government’s smooth implementation of the various people orientated projects in the state.

Represented by Mr. Samuel Bassey of the Governor’s Office at a World Media Chat on June 10 at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Ikeja, Lagos, the commissioner noted that the struggle to protect, preserve and prepare the state’s environment for the expected revolution has been fairly won. This, he said, has been possible through the successful implementation of the various environment-friendly policies.

“For instance, with the reintroduction of the monthly sanitation and proper waste management system, the state has recorded marked improvement in keeping our environment clean”, he noted.

Following its environment-friendly efforts, the commissioner said the state has geared up its energy into recycling of wastes as an alternative means of deducing competitive market products from huge waste generated in the state. This could be seen as a successful effort towards achieving employment and generating income for its citizens.

In attendance at the World Media Chat are Dr. Victor Fodoke, Chairman/CEO, Always Green Power and Systems and Prof. Samuel Wara, Director, Centre for Research, Innovation and Discovery, Covenant University, who in their separate speeches emphasised the importance of the summit in tackling the effects of climate change and the advantages people, states and organisations can tap there-from.

Highlights of the summit, according to Essien, will include an international summit and exhibition; a climate walk; legacy tree planting programme; a green talk shop; a state dinner; creating the first clean energy technology hub/export processing in West African sub-region, and first ever special environment governance award for deserving institutions and individuals.

The five-day programme, according to the commissioner, will begin with a World Media Chat, an enlightenment campaign, road-show, public presentation and sensitisation workshop on green economy/low carbon for sustainable empowerment in Nigeria.

He noted that the dream of Governor Udom Emmanuel is on industrialising the state and setting in motion a massive industrialisation drive through the constitution of several technical committees, signing of MoUs, ground-breaking ceremonies and other and preliminary processes for wide range of industrial projects like the Ibom Industrial City which will house the deepest seaport in Nigeria (the Ibom Deep Seaport), an automobile plant, an electricity meter production plant, LED factory to produce low energy bulbs in the state, and numerous other large-scale industries.

Essien noted that there are untapped resources and opportunities in the state begging to be harnessed, reckoning that “a safe environment may be the front door key to some if not all investment”. According to him, four refineries have been given licence to establish in the state. To this end, he called on “investors to take advantage of the peaceful and peace loving environment of the state to invest.”