Climate Change: Nigeria Advocates For Innovative Adaptation Strategies For Vulnerable Islands

Minister of Environment, Balarabe Lawal, addressing the 4th Nations International Conference on SIDS in Antigua and Barbuda on Wednesday

By Juliet Ukanwosu

Nigeria has called for a robust international support for small and vulnerable Island nations which are prone to effects of climate change.

President Bola Tinubu made the call on Wednesday while addressing the 4th Nations International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), holding in Antigua and Barbuda, with the theme “Charting the Course Toward Resilient Prosperity.”

President Tinubu while calling on world leaders to reflect on the collective responsibility to support the sustainable development of small island nations that face unique and devastating challenges, said Nigeria stands in solidarity with SIDS.

The President who was represented at the conference by the Minister of Environment, Balarabe Lawal, stated that SIDS are at the frontline of global environmental crisis due to climate change and other factors such as pollution and loss of biodiversity.

“Despite contributing less than one 1% percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, these nations suffer disproportionately from the impacts of climate change resulting to rising sea levels, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and the degradation of marine ecosystems,” Tinubu said.

Minister of Environment, Balarabe Lawal, with the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, at the dinner hosted by Antigua and Barbuda for Leaders of Delegations of participating countries at the 4th Nations Conference on SIDS

He noted that these factors pose existential threats to the livelihoods and cultures of millions of people in these region, and called for innovative adaptation strategies as well as robust international support and partnerships to enhance and build resilience in these vulnerable islands.

“Nigeria stands in solidarity with SIDS and is committed to contributing to global efforts aimed at mitigating climate impacts and promoting sustainable development,” the president said, as he rallied other nations.

He pointed out that SIDS, despite the challenges they face, have opportunities to move towards a green economy, as they possess both unexploited terrestrial and oceanic natural resources such as fish stocks, minerals, potential pharmaceutical products and renewable energy sources.

“If harnessed properly, SIDS have the potentials to take a lead in defining models of sustainability and human well-being whilst moving towards a green economy,” Tinubu said.

He told the gathering that the challenges faced by small island developing states are a reflection of broader global issues that require collective action, adding that “By supporting SIDS, we are also advancing the broader agenda of sustainable development and environmental stewardship.”

Specifically, he stressed the need to collaborate with SIDS and prioritize investments in climate resilience infrastructure which includes building sea defenses, developing early warning systems, and implementing sustainable land and water management practices.

Minister of Environment, Balarabe Lawal, with Gaston Alfonso Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua at the 4th Nations Conference on SIDS

He also pointed out that collaboration with international financial institutions and the private sector is essential to mobilize the necessary resources.

“The economic vulnerabilities of SIDS are exacerbated by their heavy reliance on tourism and external markets. Diversifying their economies through the promotion of sustainable industries, such as renewable energy, fisheries, and agriculture, can create more resilient economic structures,” Tinubu stated, emphasizing that access to concessional financing is critical for SIDS to address their development challenges.

The president advocated for tailored financial mechanisms that recognize the unique circumstances of SIDS and provide them with the fiscal space needed to invest in sustainable development and create more climate resilient environment.

He also told the conference that strengthening regional cooperation among SIDS and fostering partnerships with larger economies can drive innovative solutions and share best practices, while pledging Nigeria’s commitment to working with SIDS and other nations to facilitate knowledge exchange and capacity-building initiatives.

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