The Climate and Sustainable Development Network of Nigeria (CSDevNet), in collaboration with Oxfam, has facilitated a two-day review Session on Climate Resilience focusing on policy issues around Wetlands conservation in Nigeria.
The review held from the 17th to 18th of June 2021 at Port Harcourt- Rivers State. Representatives from ministries of environment and civil society representatives from Imo, Oyo, Bayelsa and Rivers States, joined the Federal Ministry of Environment and national civil society organisations to deliberate and produce an action plan for the improvement of wetland conservation, capturing of budget needs in the upcoming 2022 budget, and improving alignment between the national and the federal governments on policy direction.
The meeting aimed at facilitating lessons learnt across the different states, with the intention of fostering federal-state alignment in policy development and implementation for climate resilience through wetland conservation.
Some of the challenges identified in this workshop include the lack of policy development at the subnational level; challenges with political will in addressing issues concerning wetlands; and capacity gaps on the part of both government and civil society with regards to meaningful solutions to wetland-related issues
There’s a lack of awareness and alternatives among the populace at the community level that drives practices that are destructive to the wetland, such as bush fires, burning of tires for abattoir use, pollution arising from illegal refining as well as the legal commercial industry of oil companies.
Unsustainable exploitation of wildlife, especially illegal hunting and poaching, and wetland encroaching as a result of lack of urban planning are also key challenges.
At the end of the wetland review meeting, each state at the workshop, as well as the Federal Government, emerged from the meeting with the various action plans.
The Ministry of Environment in Imo State resolved to engage in policy formulation, which will include engagement of local communities, academia, and other relevant MDAs in the development of a wetland conservation policy.
They formally proposed creating a unit, agency or department to specifically address wetland conservation. They resolved to conduct a sensitization campaign on wetland conservation and management in collaboration with civil society, academia, and relevant MDAs.
Oyo State agreed to go on a year-long awareness drive on wetland-related issues to improve sensitization on environmental sustainability, begin advocacy towards the development of a wetland conservation bill, and domestication of the national policy on wetland conservation in the state.
They will also engage in wetland mapping to document the state’s wetland assets and their needs.
Similarly, Rivers State decided to work towards the amendment of its existing environmental protection laws to accommodate wetland conservation; and work closely with non-state actors, who will initiate advocacy for the implementation of wetland conservation policies.
Additionally, they will sensitize the public on wetland conservation and the dangers of practices; facilitate alternative sources of livelihood through domestication of livestock, and educate/re-train persons in agribusiness involved in poaching of wildlife and livestock domestication.
Bayelsa State agreed to work internally on a preliminary assessment of challenges, limitations and targets with regards to the current status of the state on wetland conservation. This will help ensure budget needs are captured in the upcoming budget.
They will also engage in policy advocacy and formulation of laws, as well as setting up monitoring plans, specific to wetland conservation.
The Federal Ministry of Environment resolved to update and validate the Nigerian Wetlands Policy collaborating with relevant MDAs, local communities and civil society. They will also facilitate the establishment and signature of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), collaborating with the National Park Services and host states.
The Ministry pledge to work with relevant state ministries to update the existing eleven RAMSAR sites; work with the Bayelsa State Government on a mangrove restoration program in Brass LGA and sustainable land management using climate-smart agriculture; work with Oyo State Government on the implementation of soil survey and soil fertility mapping in Ado-Awaye Lake in Iseyin LGA; and work with National Orientation Agency on advocacy, sensitization and awareness creation on the value of wetlands
They will be fully involved in the conducting and producing a wetlands management plan for the 11 RAMSAR sites of international importance.
It was also observed that there needs to be adequate funding for each of these actions and that states and the federal level should work towards the inclusion of these actions in the budgets for MDAs.
All event stakeholders and partners believe that the recommendations provided above are actionable and will help them work towards an inclusive approach to environmental sustainability and climate resilience across the different levels of government.