By Nkechi Isaac
Nigeria’s vulnerability to climate change is closely linked to the country’s low adaptive capacity and increasing dependence on resources sensitive to changes in climate. Apart from undermining national development efforts, there is growing concern that climate change can threaten or reverse the country’s advances towards the SDGs and achievements towards human development should measures not be taken to mainstream climate change into national decision making and development planning.
In responding to the challenges of climate change, Nigeria has committed itself to defining its institutional and legal landscape for climate change adaptation and mitigation, focusing on the roles of various actors, existing institutional capacities and governance issues, relating to institutions. In essence the political and administrative systems are being adopted to handle emerging national issues of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
In its bid to address climate change, Nigeria ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and submitted its initial and second National Communication reports in November 2003 and June 2014 respectively.
The first and second National Communication provided the baseline information on inventories of greenhouse gases, mitigations, vulnerabilities and adaptation to climate change, awareness and education activities and proposed projects for further monitoring and mitigating climate change.
A National Communication is a report that each party to the UNFCCC submits every four years to its secretariat. It provides information on emissions and removals of greenhouse gases and details of the activities a party has undertaken to implement the UNFCCC, among other information about the status of climate change in the country.
In line with fulfilling its obligations to the convention, the Federal Government through the department of climate change, Federal Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is initiating the process of preparing the Third National Communication report on climate change.
The stakeholders’ inception workshop, brought together the Inter-ministerial Committee on Climate Change (ICCC), academia, relevant private sector organisations, NGOs, and the media to among other things assist all stakeholders and partners to fully understand and take ownership of the project.
In an opening remark at the inception workshop in Keffi, Nasarawa State, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Dr Ahmed Shehu, said the main objective of Nigeria’s Third National Communication (TNC) was to create an enabling process involving all relevant national stakeholders to prepare and submit third national communication to the United Nations framework convention on climate change.
He said: “Nigeria is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change. It poses a serious threat to our national sustainable development, efforts to reduce poverty and the overall socio-economic well-being of our citizens.
“Preparing national communication report on climate change presents huge opportunity for the collection of climate relevant data that will help us to better plan our economies and also respond to global challenges of climate change and commitments. In fact, the Third National Communication should present an opportunity to transform the process from merely reporting to development of a strategic and policy support tool.
“Fully aware of the seriousness and urgency of climate change and with a deep sense of responsibility for a long-term development of mankind, Nigeria has reaffirmed its firm commitment to sustainable development that takes cognizance of the need to mainstream climate change into its development process and plans, aimed to position the country to become one of the top 20 economies in the world by 2020, and to promote climate resilient environmental sustainability in the context of national development.”
The permanent secretary represented by the director of DCC, Dr Yerima Tarfa, said the ministry was committed to implementing the overall mandate of the climate change convention and its protocol, saying the ministry would continue to work towards the provision of adequate budgetary allocation for climate change activities.
In his welcome address, Dr Tarfa, the national coordinator of the third national communication, noted that climate change has emerged as one of the most important issues facing the global community in the 21st century, saying it was expected to pose a serious threat to development and livelihoods, and the effects would be felt more strongly by the developing countries, that rely on the natural environment for their livelihoods and have less capacity to adapt to the adverse impact of climate change.
Tarfa represented by the deputy director of vulnerability and adaptation, Ministry of Environment, Hajiya Halima Bawa-Bwari, said the purpose of preparing national communications was to ascertain the level of greenhouse gas composition in the atmosphere, the vulnerability, adaptation and abatement analysis of impacts of climate change. It also serves as a basis for reference on future auditing of greenhouse gas inventory in the country.
Earlier in his remarks, the UNDP Country Director, Mandisa Mashologu, said the UNDP in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Environment had over the years invested in the preparation, collection and validation of data on GHG emissions which had resulted in the successful preparation and submission of Nigeria’s first and second national communications to UNFCCC, adding the third national communications would therefore be building on the strong national capacities developed with the support of UNDP and lessons learnt over the years.
“The TNC takes on a whole new significant meaning, coming on the heels of the country’s active participation in the negotiations, ongoing development of a nationally determined contributions (NDC) and ratification of Paris Agreement by the president, with which Nigeria has clearly demonstrated political will and commitment to tackling climate change.
This is why a national institutional framework approach, that will ensure full participation of relevant MDAs in the identification of potential for options for GHG emissions reduction across all sectors, sourcing of the necessary data is being promoted to improve the quality and consistency of the data and ensure reliability,” he added.