A U.K. Treasury -commissioned independent review on the economics of biodiversity has called for a change in the way the world thinks and acts with regard to nature. Africa, alongside the rest of the world, must heed the call to understand that our economies are embedded within nature and are not external to it, participants in a webinar heard.
Professor Dasgupta, Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics at University of Cambridge, led the review, which was commissioned by the UK Treasury in March 2019, with support from an advisory panel drawn from public policy, science, economics, finance and business.
Sir Dasgupta spoke about the report’s findings at a virtual event hosted by the African Development Bank on Tuesday. The report’s implications for Africa were the focus of the afternoon’s panel sessions, co-organized with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the United Kingdom Treasury.
The report, The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review, assesses the economic benefits of biodiversity globally. It looks at the economic costs and risks of biodiversity loss and identifies actions that can simultaneously enhance biodiversity and deliver economic prosperity.
In a conversation between Professor Dasgupta and African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, the two experts highlighted the need to change approaches, actions, and measure of success in mainstreaming biodiversity in economics and finding a balance between “what humanity takes from nature, and what we leave behind for our descendants.” The responsibility to protect nature is a global, shared one.
“Biodiversity is not really an asset...it is a combination of assets…Nature is central in every decision,” Partha Dasgupta said.
President Adesina said: “We need to price what we value better, if we value natural capital. If we value biodiversity, we value ecosystems, then let’s make sure that the accounting price we put on biodiversity gives an incentive for its preservation.”
Africa, which contributes the least to global emissions, bears the brunt of the negative effects of climate change. Now, the African Development Bank president said, the added burden of the novel coronavirus pandemic means that countries have even less resources for biodiversity initiatives and to adapt to climate change.
Other speakers, Dr. Pushpam Kumar, Professor Prof. Théophile Azomahou, Dr. Al-Hamdou Dorsouma, and Dr. Philip Osano, SEI Africa Director, and one of the two moderators, discussed opportunities to implement Africa’s “options for change.”
One suggestion was that multilateral development banks like the African Development Bank could play a greater role in financing and developing a financial system that channels financial investments – public and private – towards economic activities that enhance the stock of natural assets and encourage sustainable consumption and production activities.
Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission, outlined the many initiatives and programs that the Commission is already supporting to combat illegal poaching, conserve wildlife and the preservation of wild fauna and flora.
These initiatives include a regional cooperation framework on advancing the biodiversity economy. It will see transformation of raw materials and the enhancement of value chains, as well as scaled up investment in the sustainable utilization of biological resources as part of Africa’s transformation.
As part of the post Covid-19 response actions, the African Union has set up the African Green Stimulus Program. It addresses biodiversity conservation, combating illegal wildlife trade, revitalizing ecotourism and biodiversity economy, and the sustainable management of forests. The African Union counts the United Nations Environment Programme and the African Development Bank among its top champions, Sacko said.
The African Development Bank has a growing portfolio of initiatives focused on natural capital and biodiversity which are being channeled through its integrated approach to supporting a green and sustainable recovery from Covid-19 in Africa.
Dr. Kevin Chika Urama, Senior Director of the African Development Bank’s African Development Institute, commended the Dasgupta Review for the strong business case that it makes for realigning investments and decision-making to integrate the values provided by nature.
Earlier, in opening remarks, Dr. Åsa Persson, Research Director and Deputy Director at the Stockholm Environment Institute, emphasized the role and duty of SEI to support policy recommendations with “evidence and data” before they reached the negotiating tables and treasury departments of governments.
Sandy Sheard, Deputy Director with the UK Treasury, said she hoped the report would spur new and ambitious commitments. Her important takeaways were the importance of science and data; doing things differently with what we already have, and walking the talk.
“The solution at one level is really simple… nature is our home and economics means that we manage it better,” Sheard said.
While opening the event, SEI Africa Director Dr. Philip Osano, underscored the strong connection between culture and biodiversity in Africa, noting that “It is timely that this policy dialogue on the economics of biodiversity is being held on the occasion of the celebration of the Africa Day on 25th May, whose theme this year is on African cultural renaissance”
For more information and to read the report, click here (https://bit.ly/3fndZ0P).
A special issue of the Production Gap Report – from leading research organizations and the UN – finds that the COVID-19 recovery marks a potential turning point, where countries must change course to avoid locking in levels of coal, oil, and gas production far higher than consistent with a 1.5°C limit.
Countries plan to increase their fossil fuel production over the next decade, even as research shows that the world needs to decrease production by 6% per year to limit global warming to 1.5°C, according to the 2020 Production Gap Report.
The report, first launched in 2019, measures the gap between Paris Agreement goals and countries’ planned production of coal, oil, and gas. It finds that the “production gap” remains large: countries plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with a 1.5°C temperature limit.
This year’s special issue looks at the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic – and governments’ stimulus and recovery measures – on coal, oil, and gas production. It comes at a potential turning point, as the pandemic prompts unprecedented government action – and as major economies, including China, Japan, and South Korea, have pledged to reach net-zero emissions.
“This year’s devastating forest fires, floods, and droughts and other unfolding extreme weather events serve as powerful reminders for why we must succeed in tackling the climate crisis. As we seek to reboot economies following the COVID-19 pandemic, investing in low-carbon energy and infrastructure will be good for jobs, for economies, for health, and for clean air,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “Governments must seize the opportunity to direct their economies and energy systems away from fossil fuels, and build back better towards a more just, sustainable, and resilient future.”
The report was produced by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Overseas Development Institute, E3G, and UNEP. Dozens of researchers contributed to the analysis and review, spanning numerous universities and additional research organizations.
“The research is abundantly clear that we face severe climate disruption if countries continue to produce fossil fuels at current levels, let alone at their planned increases,” said Michael
Lazarus, a lead author on the report and the director of SEI’s US Center. “The research is similarly clear on the solution: government policies that decrease both the demand and supply for fossil fuels and support communities currently dependent on them. This report offers steps that governments can take today for a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels.”
The report’s main findings include:
“The pandemic-driven demand shock and the plunge of oil prices this year has once again demonstrated the vulnerability of many fossil-fuel-dependent regions and communities. The only way out of this trap is diversification of these economies beyond fossil fuels. Alas, in 2020 we saw many governments doubling down on fossil fuels and entrenching these vulnerabilities even more,” said Ivetta Gerasimchuk, a lead author of the report and the lead for sustainable energy supplies at IISD. “Instead, governments should direct recovery funds towards economic diversification and a transition to clean energy that offers better long-term economic and employment potential. This may be one of the most challenging undertakings of the 21st century, but it’s necessary and achievable.”
The report also delves into how the world can equitably transition away from fossil fuels, with the most rapid wind-down needed from countries that have higher financial and institutional capacity and are less dependent on fossil fuel production. Some of the largest fossil fuel producers in this group, including Australia, Canada and the US, are currently among those pursuing major expansions in fossil fuel supply.
Countries highly dependent on fossil fuels and with limited capacity will need international support to transition equitably, and the report explores ways to facilitate that cooperation.
“Winding down fossil fuel production at a rate in line with Paris goals requires both international cooperation and support,” said SEI Research Fellow Cleo Verkuijl, who is a lead author on the report. “As countries communicate more ambitious climate commitments to the
UN climate process ahead of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, they have the opportunity to incorporate targets and measures to decrease fossil fuel production into these plans, or NDCs.”
The report outlines six areas of action, arming policymakers with options to start winding down fossil fuels as they enact COVID-19 recovery plans. Among other things, they can reduce existing government support for fossil fuels, introduce restrictions on production, and ensure stimulus funds go to green investments (while tying any high-carbon support with conditions that promote long-term alignment with climate goals).
“This report shines a light on how government action, in many cases, risks locking us into fossil-fueled pathways. And it lays out the alternative, with solutions and examples for moving beyond coal, oil, and gas production,” said SEI’s Executive Director, Måns Nilsson. “It’s time to imagine, and plan for, a better future.”
Niger Republic officials seize 6 trucks of relief materials for Nigerian refugeesSei By Habibu Harisu Konni (Niger Republic) Relief materials meant for Nigerian refugees in Niger Republic have been seized by the Nigeriens Douanes (Customs) stationed at Konni border.The six trucks were heading to the refugees camp at Gidan Runji, Maradi state of Niger Republic when they were impounded.The relief materials were being conveyed to the refugees by officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) when the trucks were intercepted on Monday.The Nigeria News Agency reports that the trucks left Nigeria through Illela border on their way to the beneficiaries who were victims of banditry attacks in Sabon Birni and Isa local government areas of Sokoto state.The victims relocated to Gidan Runji community in Maradi state after the attacks.NAN Correspondent who is part of the mission reports that relevant authorisation from Niger Republic Ministry of Foreign Affairs were duly obtained by Nigerian Consulate before the trucks left Nigeria.The Nigerien Douanes in Konni, however, insisted that original waiver documents on the goods should be provided as NEMA officials only had photocopies of the papers.When an official the of Nigerian Consulate showed up with the documents on Tuesday morning, the Douanes insisted that transit permission should also be presented.The Consular official, Mr John Usman, along with NEMA Head of Operation in Sokoto, Mr Kofoworola Soleye and an official of Sokoto State Emergency Management Agency, Mr Bashir Sokoto later consulted the Chairman of Konni district and presented the waiver permit documents.In spite of Chairman’s intervention, the Douanes officials directed NEMA to pay 100, 000 CF which is equivalent to about N60, 000 to a private clearing agent to obtain another transit permit. Edited by Maharazu Ahmed
The Nigerian Network Operators Group (ngNOG) on Tuesday said there was need to connect the next 100 million Nigerians to affordable internet.
ngNOG is a forum dedicated to promoting the exchange of technical information and the cooperation and coordination among network service providers.
It has to do with discussion and policy implementations on issues affecting the internet community, and to maintain the stability of the Internet within the Nigerian region.
Folayan said that there was need to connect the next 100 million Nigerians because of the benefits of the internet.
He said that connecting the next 100 million could be made easier by recognising the importance of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the nation’s socioeconomic development.
According to him, there is need to make ICT the centerpiece of national development through steady pursuit of policies and programmes that will re-position Nigeria as a strong player in the emerging global digital economy.
“Information technology will require concerted efforts in legislation and policies, education and capacity building, open governance and enhanced accountability.
“We need to recognise information technology as a matter of national priority and make it the bedrock of national development, by putting in policies that will use ICT to drive socioeconomic development.
“Enactment of appropriate legislations to give effect to the various ICT thrusts of the government, such as mandatory continuing education, the National Software Strategic Policy, National Broadband Policy or plan and Financial Technology Services, among others,” he said.
Folayan said that there was the need to foster technological innovation and competitiveness, so as to get very good dividends from the technological forays.
He said that government should pay attention to locally developed solutions to free the country from digital slavery and technological isolation.
According to him, government should give prominence to the National Local Content Act, 2010.
The co-founder said that a very strong reward system should be instituted to encourage technological innovation at all levels and across all areas.
He said that government should develop the ICT industry by a method of strong engagement of the industry players at all levels.
Folayan said that in order to connect the next 100 million Nigerians, there was the need to create at least 12 IT or Knowledge Innovation Parks in different parts of the country.
He said that at least, two Software Engineering Institutes (SEI) should be established, in line with the spirit of the Local Content Development Act.
“The march to connect the next 100 million and indeed all Nigerians requires continuous cultivation and empowerment of the community, and a task for all to do.
“I humbly request our development partners to keep the faith. Nigeria is a great place to cast your nets and of course, the returns are enormous.
“Our main task, is to build a community of people who can work together, to push the envelope to take the nation forward,” Folayan said.
Mr Adewale Ajao, the President of Internet Society (ISOC) Nigeria Chapter, said that connecting the next 100 million Nigerians required just some simple decisions by government and network operators.
Ajao said that the cost of accessing the internet should be affordable, so as to connect more Nigerians.
He said that data bundle was costly because a lot of contents came from outside the country, hence, the need to domesticate contents.
Edited by: Olagoke Olatoye