By Asmau Ahmad
Nigeria has pledged commitment to reducing marine plastic pollution from land-based sources and activities.
President Muhammadu Buhari, gave the assurance in a speech delivered on his behalf by the Minister of State for Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor at the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal.
While highlighting Nigeria’s effort at ensuring the health and sustainability of oceans, seas and marine resources, the president said that a national policy on plastic pollution and the road map on tackling solid and plastic waste management had been formulated and established.
President Buhari, who lauded the UN for leading the process of effective ocean governance, said that Nigeria had mainstreamed ocean management into the economy, constituting a Presidential Committee on Sustainable Blue Economy.
He also announced that Nigeria had embarked on creation of two marine protected areas.
Buhari reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to participating constructively in ongoing negotiations for various multilateral agreements, including on conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
“The entire southern border of Nigeria is the Atlantic Ocean with a coastline of about 853km, being the longest in the West African region. It is endowed with enormous biodiversity resources such as the freshwater and mangrove forest ecosystems with diverse species of fauna and flora.
‘‘We acknowledge the fact that a healthy ocean and coastal environment are key to a sustainable development. We must, therefore, conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.
“The ocean is key to the global economy, with an estimated 40 million people projected to be employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.
“Our oceans and seas are repositories of tremendous wealth in terms of natural capital, ecosystem services, living and non-living resources.
“We are conscious of the fact that our maritime and aquatic resources are critical for the livelihoods of our people; hence, our commitment to the Africa Union 2063 Agenda and the attainment of United Nations SDGs 14,” he said.
The Nigerian leader also called for more partnerships and knowledge-sharing to protect humanity’s common ocean heritage.
He said: ‘‘Science tells us that in order to stop the downward spiral we are witnessing in the ocean, we must fully and highly protect, at least, 30 per cent of the global ocean by 2030 and dramatically strengthen the management of human activities in the other 70 per cent.
“This must be reflected in the text we negotiate here as well as in upcoming negotiations planned in December 2022 at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) of the Conference of Parties (COP).
“Nigeria is a member of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and the Blue Leaders Campaign.
“The global community needs to agree to the effective protection of 30% of the global ocean by 2030 at the CBD COP in December, and a robust high seas treaty that doesn’t simply endorse the status quo, but the one that ensures all nations manage their activities in the high seas to prevent significant effects on the ocean.
“These two steps will go a long way in restoring the health and resilience of our oceans.”