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Climate change: ECOWAS urged to proffer solutions to halt poor communities’ forced relocation

The Minister of State for Environment, Dr Iziaq Adekunle Salako, has tasked the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the need to proffer…

The Minister of State for Environment, Dr Iziaq Adekunle Salako, has tasked the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the need to proffer solutions to climate change in West Africa, saying lack of solutions means that their communities will become poorer, food security jeopardised and their rural populations forced to relocate.

He noted that relocation was already happening in many of the countries, saying, “It is a fact that the population of climate migrants and environmental displaced people is rising in our sub-region.”

Salako, who noted this on Monday at the ECOWAS Coordination Meeting on 30by30 in Abuja, said it was clear that there was inequity in the ways countries were impacted by the biodiversity and climate crises.

He said, “As I reflect on the importance of the successful implementation of 30by30, I see that the stakes are high for ECOWAS countries and for Africa being the continent most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.”

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While noting that the ECOWAS region might have the lowest GDP in the world, he said it was one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet and was massively represented within the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, which all ECOWAS countries joined to advocate for a commitment to expand protected areas to at least 30 per cent of the planet by 2030.

He further said that they were entrusted with an important mandate to produce a regional 30by30 implementation plan which sought to secure the effective protection of at least 30 per cent of the ECOWAS region to preserve their life-giving ecosystems and to halt immediately the human-induced extinction of wild species.

The ECOWAS region is the only part of the world that is looking at its contribution to halting biodiversity loss through a regional lens, a template critical for global success and to securing nature for future generations. The healthier our region’s biodiversity is, the better it will be in withstanding future climate and biodiversity shocks and the more resilient to continue to deliver for the people.

He said through the meeting they were gathering to plan the next steps and to turn their ambitions into concrete actions, adding that, “Proudly, we can say ladies and gentlemen, that we are not starting from scratch as our region is already ahead and continues to lead with determination on planning for the regional contribution to 30by30.”

He, however, pointed out that three months ago the government of Nigeria hosted the ECOWAS Coordination Meeting for Prompt Ratification of the BBNJ Treaty to pave the way towards the adoption of measures to highly and fully protect 30 per cent of their oceans. And that before then, in October 2022, the region adopted targeted guidance on the implementation of 30by30 which they would endeavour to refine in the coming days.