Stakeholders in the Niger Delta have adopted a regional approach to address climate and environmental management in the region, in the light of lingering challenges like flooding, gas flaring, deforestation and water pollution.

This milestone was achieved at the 2019 Niger Delta Climate Conference and Regional Pre-COP25 meeting, organised by the African Centre Climate Actions and Rural Development (ACCARD) in collaboration with Federal University of Petroleum Resources Effurun (FUPRE). It held from October 23 to 25, 2019.

According to the Coordinator of ACCARD, Elohor Freeman Oluowo in his opening remarks at the conference, African countries lacked the technological, human capacity and political will to deal with climate change on the continent, thus the need for a broad stakeholders engagement to formulate common solutions and mobilise both resources and other support towards climate management, especially in the Niger Delta.

Augustine Arukwe, a Professor of Environmental Toxicology from the Norwegian University of Science Technology (NTNU); a keynote speaker, spoke on: “Climate Change, Adaptation and Sustainability Development; A moral responsibility to act now” and “Environmental Biomonitoring.”

According to him, climate change represents a significant threat to security, peace and human as well as ecosystems health globally, and that it is worse in developing countries. He further said that, with average temperature still on the increase, oceans will continue to warm, resulting in sea level rise, among others unprecedented extreme weather events like tornedoes, storms.

Arukwe asserted that, to reverse the growing trend in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in Nigeria, there is need to deploy a wide array of technologies, develop infrastructures and people, especially the youths, as well as pursue behavioral changes to match global commitment to climate management, and also reduce their effect on both human and the ecosystems.

Similarly, Ochuko Odibo of the Nigeria REDD+ Programme, while presenting the programme’s achievements, supported the position of the erudite Professor on the need for the oil companies and the Nigerian government to increase research funding in the petroleum sector and drastically reduce GHGs emission.

He stated that climate change response in this part of the world is more of adaptation than mitigation, “because we emit less than the Western World, who are advancing cause for mitigation, in order not to aggravate the problems”.

Dr. Paul Abolo in line with other speakers said the growing and global concern about climate change is in their future impacts and youths are the future of any country. Therefore, there is need to develop youth capacity and leadership in line with United Nations support for more youth engagements and participation, to bring about the needed transformational change.

Abolo, while presenting the essence for the yearly Conference of the Parties (COP) meetings, encouraged more youth support and sponsorship to attend the summit.

The high point of the event was the Regional Dialogue and Pre-COP25 meetings where state governments in the region presented their achievements and efforts so far in climate change management. Commissioner for Environment of Bayelsa State, Eradiri Udengs, raised support for the local modular refinery and more local participation in environmental management. He however said more drastic measures such as setting up a mobile court is necessary to enforce environmental laws.

Mr. Oye Emmanuel, the Director Climate Change, recommended a forum of stakeholders with policy makers, for possible ways to end gas flaring in Nigeria and Rivers State over the black soot pollution. 

Also, Mr. Kenneth Iroguosa, the Director of Climate Change in Edo State, said dialogue helped people understand the disadvantages of cutting tree and other forms of forest degradation.