Sterling One Foundation (SOF), in partnership with the British High Commission, has organised a media dialogue in commemoration of the International Day of Climate Action for 2022. The dialogue, held with the theme: “The Transition to a Circular Economy- Partnerships to Solve Pressing Challenges” at the Deputy British High Commissioner’s residence in Lagos, was designed to promote media support for effective communication for the development and raising awareness on critical issues with priority for Climate Action.
Addressing participants at the event, Peju Ibekwe, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sterling One Foundation said, “There has never been a more urgent need to revive damaged ecosystems than now and we need urgent action to address these pressing issues. We must shift from harming the planet to healing it. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, we still experience rampant ignorance, apathy, carelessness and lack of follow-through when it comes to issues and conversations around climate action and a clear understanding by the common man. The role of the media in communicating this effectively, breaking down the implications to all levels of government and society, especially setting the agenda and driving much-needed action across all realms in the society is critical, hence this timely dialogue,” Ibekwe said.
She noted that climate change is one of the defining issues in society today, adding that Sterling One Foundation has prioritised multi-stakeholder engagements in driving advocacy, furthering conversations towards increased awareness and effective action in driving innovative solutions to combat this menace while promoting collaboration and accountable reportage by the media.
She said, “As the world pursues a transformative recovery from COVID-19 and continues on the Decade of Action for accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), people, organisations and the media are essential parts of the intrinsic system to drive the required change and there has never been a more urgent need to focus on this mandate than now.”
The CEO of SOF said the partnership with the British Deputy High Commission, led by Mr Ben Llewellyn-Jones, will activate pre-COP27 engagements with young people, schools, educators, government, CSOs, media and the private sector.
In his welcome address, Mr Llewellyn-Jones said climate change is a common concern for all countries because it is an urgent and potentially irreversible threat, remarking that, “We are at a critical moment for the future of our planet. Temperatures are rising, storms are raging and crops are failing across the world.”
He noted that considering the impact of climate change, and of course, COVID-19, building back a fairer, greener and more resilient recovery and safer economy should be a big priority of all governments and gatekeepers across the globe, including the United Kingdom and Nigeria.
The Deputy High Commissioner said it is very crucial for stakeholders to educate the media on the importance of generating compelling stories and reports that have the potential to galvanise people’s action for sustainable development in Nigeria, adding that although Nigeria contributes about one per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is among the top 10 of world’s most climate vulnerable countries.
He said coastal states face extensive risks from storm surges, with inland flooding and pollution prevalent in the Niger Delta region; gully erosions in the southeast, and chronic aridity and riverine flooding in the north while the middle belt is at risk of aridity, compounded by high-tensions between farmers and pastoralists.
Mr Llewellyn-Jones said key sectors impacted by climate change in Nigeria are agriculture, water and health sectors. He said 70 per cent of the population relies on climate-dependent resources while about 55 per cent of the 200 million plus population have access to electricity and fuel, whereas wood and charcoal are the major sources of energy for the rural population.
He said with 99 per cent of tree cover loss in Nigeria occurred within natural forests from 2013 to 2020 and the deforestation rate is more than 3.7 per cent per annum, adding that the urbanisation rate is about 4.3 per cent per annum.
According to him, with Nigeria’s population set to double to 400 million by 2050 and over 52 per cent of the population currently living in urban centres without action to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, there will be increased pressure on natural resources. He said this will result in conflicts and emissions profile as well as climate impacts such as flooding which, in 2022, has impacted 31 of 36 states, affecting over 1.4 million people, displacing 808,000 and leaving over 300 dead.
He remarked that the impact of climate change without action could cost between six per cent and 30 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP by 2050. He said the media must also take up its responsibility as gatekeepers and the fourth estate of the realm to advocate for and educate every Nigerian on the importance of climate action.
The event was attended by professionals from leading media organisations, environmental sustainability and climate knowledge experts, impact investors, climate-focused multilateral development institutions, development experts, government agencies and climate NGOs, among others.
The dialogue had the objective to sustain the conversation in a bid to accelerate actions to save the planet, and prevent and reverse the degradation of the ecosystems by leveraging mass communication to different audiences across the country.
A documentary on ‘Climate Change and Beach cleaning was presented during the event to strengthen the knowledge base of journalists, editors and media gatekeepers to engage regularly and report development initiatives in Nigeria from the prism of sustainability.
A panel session on the ‘Role of the Media in Climate Adaptation’ featured Mr Desmond Majekodunmi, Founder, LUFASI Park, Mr Ibrahim Odumboni, Managing Director and CEO of Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and Mrs Peju Ibekwe while Mr Godfrey Oji, Product Manager, Sterling One Foundation, moderated the session.
The panellists fielded questions from the audience ranging from taking responsibility for driving awareness creation to driving commitment by the media and prioritising effective and sustained climate action.