The twenty-first century has been subject to several climate change phenomena, leaving millions of people displaced by causing disasters such as floods, desertification, droughts, erosion and food insecurity, increase in malaria, loss of agricultural products and forest reserves.
The recently published report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly shows that Climate Change is real and is induced by human activities. Also, Africa as a continent will be severely affected by the impacts of climate change. In fact, women and children bear the brunt of these impacts and are left vulnerable and displaced in many cases. In 2012, Nigeria witnessed one of her worse climatic disasters with floods taking over more than half of the country; leading to a diminished GDP, loss of lives, properties, infrastructure, and leaving citizens to fight for whats left of resources.
Nigeria has always participated in the Conference of Party (COP) meetings; she is a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and took part in the Kyoto protocol that calls for a cut in global greenhouse gas emission. However, till date, Nigeria has no clear policy that addresses the effects of climate change, with no specific agency of government fully in charge of climate change activities and strategies such as developing mitigation and adaptation measures to enable the populace survive and effectively tackle this menace.
In 2009, a Climate Commission Bill was championed by coalition of civil society organizations at both houses of the National Assembly, the apex body in charge of formulating developmental policies in the country after in-depth consultation and looking at international bet practices. The Bill scaled through both houses, Senate and House of Representative, harmonized by a joint committee of the leadership of both houses and passed by the 6th National Assembly.
As the ‘constitution’ law of the land prescribes, a Bill must have Presidential assent before it become a law governing the country. The then leadership of the National Assembly forwarded the passed Bill to the President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2010 for his signature to enable this Bill become law and guide the country toward climate change mitigation and adaptation actions as well as addressing the problem while working with various stakeholders including international partners. Up till this moment, we have not heard a word from our President and political leaders on the status of this Bill which seeks to make Nigeria the African country taking the lead on climate change issues. This Bill, if assented to, seeks to coordinate climate change activities bringing various agencies of government, academia and private sector together.
Nigerian youth represent over 65% of the country’s population, making them strategic in the fight for a workable mitigation & adaptation strategy and action plan for the country. Everyone has a role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, be it student, law maker, journalist, market women, youth group, religious group, community or private sector. The government is in charge of formulating policies, while we all implement as citizens; school children plant trees, market women reuse their resources and recycle used items, we are all live an Eco-Friendly life style to protect the planet and contribute to the global environmental campaign toward sustainability.
The youth population has taken to the use of social media tools, mostly Facebook & Twitter, to reach out to their peers and contribute towards policy advocacy and to air their opinion on environmental policies and how it impacts them as a vulnerable group. The likes of Climate Wednesday and Bailiff Issues, weekly Tweet-Meets that engage millions of young people across the country on environmental & sustainable development issues help produce a climate smart generation while raising awareness on the issue.
As the next COP meeting scheduled to hold in Warsaw in November is weeks away, we as young people wonder Nigeria’s negotiating position is and what our government delegations would showcase as our achievement over the years on climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. We hope this would not be a jamboree for government officials as this meeting would sharpen our future, the global community and countries roles in curbing climate change.
—About Hamzat Lawal—
Hamzat Lawal, is an Activist, Climate Negotiator Tracker, currently an Executive with the International Centre for Energy, Environment & Development and Co-Founded the Nigerian Youth Climate Action Network. He has contributed to grass root mobilization in raising awareness on environmental & sustainable development issues as well as policy communications & advocacy and has represented young people in various United Nations conferences.