A diverse assembly of 150 participants, including frontline community members, civil society representatives, scholars, development experts, and officials from key Nigerian environmental agencies, gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, on October 23, 2023. This critical gathering marked the second annual National Conference on Climate Change, organized by Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA).
The gathering tagged ‘‘Creating a sustainable climate finance for Nigeria’’ featured engaging panel sessions and insightful discussions that interrogated the Nigerian Agenda for COP28, the hidden truth about carbon offsets, the plight of the sinking city of Ayetoro in Ondo State, the unending pollution siege on the Niger Delta, the disappearing Lake Chad, the African Climate Summit pact and other global climate conversations of national interest.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Iziaq Salako, Honourable Minster of State for Environment, Federal Ministry of Environment, Nigeria, represented by Mr. Jonah Barde, underscored the importance of recognizing climate change as not just an environmental concern but also an economic, social and moral imperative that demands coordinated and collective action.
The keynote address at the event entitled Loss and Damage Fund and the Quest for Sustainable Climate Finance Mechanism, delivered by Prof Lanre Fagbohun, Former Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University emphasised the urgent need for a sustainable climate finance mechanism for Nigeria and extension, Africa. He highlighted the necessity of acknowledging that climate-induced loss and damage disproportionately affect the most vulnerable and expressed that stakeholders in the climate discourse, including those whose emissions are most responsible for global warming, must respond with swift, fair, and substantial financial support to address this crisis.
The conference proceeded with engaging plenary sessions where experts discussed contemporary issues in the global climate discourse.
The conference’s first session moderated by, Faith Nwadishi, Executive Director of Centre for Transparency Advocacy centred on discussions around the Nairobi declaration on climate change, Nigeria’s agenda for COP 28, and the hidden truth about carbon offsets.
Dr. Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, interrogated the Nairobi Declaration at the Africa Climate Summit, noting the failure of African leaders to formulate a definitive, people-centric strategy for tackling the profound repercussions of climate change and extractivism. He advocated for a just transition in Africa, away from exploitative mineral resource practices as outlined in the social energy manifesto drafted by frontline and vulnerable communities in the Global South.
A second panel, moderated by Pricillia Achapka, Executive Director of, Women and Environment Programme, focused on national climate challenges. This panel featured discussions such as Ayetoro, the Sinking City by HRH Oba Ojagbohumi Oluwambe (JP), the Ogeloyinbo of Ayetoro; The Unending Pollution Siege on Niger Delta by Celestine Akpobari from the Ogoni Solidarity Forum; and The Shrinking Gongola Basin and the Disappearing Lake Cha by Dr. Zainab Nuhu, Bayero University Kano
HRH Oba Ojagbohunmi Oluwambe (JP), the Ogeloyinbo of Ayetoro discussed the dire situation of Ayetoro City in Ondo State, a once beautiful coastal community now ravaged by climate change-induced ocean surges and destructive floods. The plight of Ayetoro is further exarcebated by the incessant fossil fuel exploration around its resource-rich area that has caused a degradation of its lands, waters and relief profile. The resulting damage has forced the indigenous population into makeshift homes, while government interventions have consistently fallen short, leaving the town and its vulnerable populations in ruins.
Celestine Akpobari from the Ogoni Solidarity Forum also shed light on the ongoing pollution in the Niger Delta, criticizing the failure of big polluters and the government to remediate the environment. Dr. Zainab Nuhu from Bayero University Kano discussed the shrinking Gongola Basin and the disappearing Lake Chad, a vital water body in Africa. Lake Chad has seen a significant reduction in size, primarily due to climate change, which has led to decreased rainfall and increased evaporation in the region. Additionally, human activities, particularly agricultural irrigation, have amplified the lake’s depletion. This shrinkage has severe consequences for local communities, including loss of livelihoods for fishermen and farmers, increased competition for scarce resources leading to conflicts, and ecological disruptions affecting local biodiversity
Discussions from the plenary sessions recognized the need to harness indigenous knowledge and localize interventions to address climate change issues. The conversations also underscored the importance of all stakeholders cross-working to bolster the weight of climate advocacy and interventions.
The conference concluded with a communiqué highlighting key ideas and strategies for future climate action in Nigeria and Africa.