Combating climate change through Trust Fund

THISDAY Newspaper- Godwin Haruna

Lagos — Environmentalists reckon that the climate change phenomenon remains one of the most critical challenges ever to face humanity. Researchers have often painted a dismal picture for Nigeria with sea levels rising along the 800 km long coastline, droughts, desertification, erosion, floods and general land degradation increasing in frequency and density. These catastrophes also have the propensity to deepen poverty among the mass of the people if urgent steps are not taken to confront them frontally in order to mitigate their impact.

It is against this background that various segments of the society gathered to discuss the desirability of the Nigeria Strategic Climate Change Trust Fund at the United Nations House, Abuja last week. In his welcome remarks at the meeting, Mr. Muyiwa Odele of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said the issue was a serious threat to poverty eradication and sustainable development in the country.

Odele noted that given Nigeria's large rural population, which depends directly on climate-sensitive economic and development sectors and natural resources for their subsistence and livelihoods, there was need to formulate mitigating factors to confront the catastrophes. He urged the stakeholders to come forward with workable suggestions in order to translate the concept of the trust fund into a reality.

Also speaking during the opening remarks, Mr. Peter Tarfa of the Climate Change Unit, Federal Ministry of the Environment, Abuja, said ensuring sustainable financing of adaptation and to some extent mitigation measures and actions could constitute a major constraint in the country's efforts to cope with the impact of climate change. He said all evidence point to the fact that climate change is aggravating the environmental issues of deforestation and land degradation, freshwater shortage, food security and air and water pollution.

This, he added, is expected to exacerbate the impacts of deforestation and other economic pressures leading to further water shortage, land degradation and desertification in a positive feedback mechanism that encourages the reinforcement of negative climate change impacts. He stressed that projected changes in the incidence, frequency, intensity, and duration of climate extremes (for example heat waves, heavy rainfall, and drought) as well as more gradual changes in the average climate may further threaten our means of livelihoods in the face of inaction.

Tarfa said like a caring and listening government, the federal government has taken the path of addressing squarely the issues of climate change in a coherent manner that will reduce the country's vulnerability and enhance its resilience to the impact of climate change.

"Fully aware of the seriousness and urgency of climate change and with a deep sense of responsibility for the long-term development of mankind. Nigeria is firmly committed to sustainable development that takes cognizance of the need to mainstream climate change into its development process and plans, including the 7-Point Agenda of the present administration and the Vision 20:2020, which is to position the country to become one of the to 20 economies in the world by 2020," he added.

The keynote speaker, Prof. Emmanuel Oladipo said in the face of the myriad consequences of the climate change phenomenon, ensuring sustainable financing of adaptation and mitigation measures and actions could constitute a major constraint in the country's efforts to cope with its impact. Oladipo said given the prevailing developments around the world, there was need to act fast to face the challenge of financing climate change response in Nigeria.

He said tackling the impact of climate change to prevent it from becoming a development catastrophe requires cooperation and joint efforts by the international community, as well as undertaking concrete national initiatives. "As Nigeria is not a major emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are the major contributors to global warming, the country's focus would be more in adaptation. However, there is also the need for the country to undertake serious vulnerability analysis in order to have evidence-based information for planning against climate change-induced negative development consequences.

"Moreover, it is also imperative for the country to conduct proper inventory of its oil and gas sector, which constitutes the main sources of its contribution to global GHGs. To respond effectively to climate change mitigation and adaptation challenges, Nigeria will require a lot of resources beyond what governments at all levels can provide. This constitutes the rationale for government's decision to establish a Strategic Climate Change Trust Fund that would be contributed and used by all stakeholders, including the private sector, in the country to address key climate change problems or challenges, as well as explore the opportunities for development while combating climate change in the country," Oladipo said.

He outlined the advantages of the Trust Fund to include the following, among others, mechanism for the coordination of many streams of financing that the country may attract from the global pool of resources avoiding fragmentation and invisible impacts; Alignment of funding allocations to national climate strategies; Leveraging and catalysing low carbon investments beyond the trust fund: By working with sectoral ministries, it can act to catalyse their own sectoral funding to invest into low carbon development pathways. In this way, low carbon options will not be a "pilot" but becomes a mainstream investment option in the relevant sectors.

Others include encouraging broad-based participation of all stakeholders, including CSOs and the private sector, for innovative and quick impact initiatives; Enabling the country to align to the current trend of international negotiations, which is moving away from project-by-project funding to benchmark-based financing for national strategy; and Coordinated monitoring and communications nationally and globally. He added that the trust fund of a large size and magnitude could potentially produce a huge impact, putting Nigeria, a global leader in pursuing high-growth low carbon development pathways.

Oladipo stated that the present initiative of putting in place a Nationally Strategic Climate Change Trust Fund is a response to the need to broaden the scope of national interventions for impact at all levels of governance through strategic alliances among development partners and mobilisation of additional resources for sustainability of activities to check the climate chaos. The Fund's niche, he stated, will consist of partnership building, fungible programme components, extensive stakeholder participation, cognate technical expertise and broad range of contribution from traditional and non-traditional sources.

He stressed that the Fund will be designed with a view to tackling climate change impacts to reduce the vulnerability and increase the resilience of the people, as well as improving the overall well-being of people living in the very vulnerable areas of the country.

"The vulnerable segments of the population in particular will be provided with enhanced opportunities to manage their natural resources for sustainable livelihoods and poverty reduction in the face of climate change consequences. In addition, significant support will be provided for initiatives and activities that will in the long run put Nigeria in the path of low carbon economic development that is becoming the vogue of sustainable development in the world," he said.

He added that the main areas of support would be for adaptation, mitigation, research and information and adoption of appropriate technology. They will include: Proving necessary support to Nigerian negotiators in climate change Post-Copenhagen talks and conferences of Parties (COP); Detailed and continuous evaluation of the impact of climate change on the country's development; Promoting Carbon Credit and National Carbon Forum; Supporting special mitigation and adaptation initiatives to encourage green development, including creation of at least 1 million Green Jobs by 2011.

Mainstreaming climate change into development; and Promotion of energy-efficient stoves and gender sensitive biofuel stoves, solar cooking equipment and use of as and energy from other renewable sources such as wind to reduce women's dependence on fuel wood and reduce their carbon print. Other areas of intervention would be implementation of adaptation activities in areas such as water resources management; land management; agriculture; infrastructure development; fragile ecosystems and integrated coastal zone management

Others are understanding and management of climate change risks, including capacity-building to address disasters related to climate change; Establishment of national and zonal centres and information networks for rapid response to extreme weather events and Research and Development (R&D) in climate change, including capacity strengthening of a Centre of Excellence for Climate Change Research

Oladipo said the goal of NSCCTF is to support the efforts of the federal government to reduce emissions, move towards a low-carbon high growth economy and adapt to the impact of climate change. "The overall objective of the NSCCTF is to attract and mobilise funding to enable Nigeria implement short to long-term climate change related actions and activities and measures that will not only increase the resilience of national development sectors to the impacts of climate change, but also enable the country to chart the course of sustainable low carbon high growth economic development. The NSCCF would serve as a catalyst to leverage additional resources from bilateral and other multilateral sources for (a) mainstreaming of climate change issues in national, state and local development planning and (b) the implementation of mitigation and adaptation climate change initiatives. It will develop innovative ways to link international finance sources with national investment strategies and demonstrate the possibility of managing development funds in a transparent and accountable manner for impact and sustainability," Oladipo said.

Stakeholders present applauded the move and urged the conveners to move expeditiously to actualize the concept of the fund. However, Dr. Godwin Ojo, deputy executive director, Environmental Rights AgendaFriends of the Earth, said laudable as the idea of the fund is, the trustees should refrain from collecting money from known despoilers and polluters of the environment. That is the only way, Ojo reasoned, the integrity of the fund would be maintained and not be hijacked by organisations notorious for polluting the environment. He added that there are better ways for such firms, especially in the oil and gas industry to redress years of environmental degradation.

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Oladipo said: "Contributions to the FUND may be targeted or general. Targeted funds will be those that will be earmarked to specific sectoral and thematic projects (energy, transport, waste management etc) and/or areas or communities, as identified by contributors of such funds. Contributors of targeted funds will normally have identified the specific area of climate change to which contributions are to be channelled. Governments, corporate entities, communities, donors etc. can utilise this window to deliver specific interventions without having to set up new structures or instruments. Beyond thematic, sectoral and geographic targeting, contributors under this modality would also be able to indicate, if necessary, preferred categories of implementation agencies (NGOs) to be engaged to deliver services specified by them."


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