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Nigeria joins global partnership against forest destruction

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Nigeria has expressed her commitment to the protection of forests and natural habitats from destruction, and promotion of sustainable trade and supply chains of agricultural commodities.

The country recently joined a total of 23 other nations across various continents to endorse a statement committing to working together towards achieving the targets.

The development was part of the outcome of the first ministerial meeting of the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue.

A statement issued by the British Deputy High Commission in Nigeria, and signed by a press and public affairs officer, Ndidiamaka Eze, said the dialogue was launched in February as part of the United Kingdom’s efforts to achieve united front in the fight against the destruction of the forests globally.

Other countries on the list include; Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Côte D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, France, Gabon, Ghana, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Liberia, and Malaysia.

Others are the Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Congo, Republic of Korea, Spain, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

“The landmark statement is the result of collaborative action on an issue that is complex but also critical to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and limiting a global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” the statement states in part.

Statistics

According to the statement, international trade in agricultural commodities such as palm oil, soy and beef, is worth more than $80 billion per year.

“Globally, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, many of them in developing countries,” the statement said, adding that; “Nigeria is a producer and consumer of forest risk agricultural commodities.”

It said, Nigeria domestically produces cocoa and palm oil but also imports palm oil from Southeast Asia.

Forests are said to be the largest natural carbon sink and a vital harbour of biodiversity “but they are disappearing at an alarming rate.”

The data provided by the high commissioner’s office further says Nigeria has one of the highest deforestation rates globally, and she loses approximately 350,000 to 400,000 hectares per year.

“Logging, agriculture and collection of fuelwood are the leading causes of forest loss in Nigeria,” Ms Eze stated.

Intervention

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s government has reportedly expressed her desire to intensify partnership with Nigeria towards ensuring “an inclusive vision and effective action for sustainable agriculture, forests and land-use economy, as these areas have the potential to address major barriers to development around poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, unemployment, environmental degradation and instability.”

Eze noted that through programmes such as Investments in Forests and Sustainable Land-Use (IFSLU) the UK government is supporting a shift to sustainable supply chains for agricultural commodities associated with deforestation, including palm oil and cocoa, and creating new investment opportunities in sustainable land use through public-private partnerships.

“IFSLU has worked with Edo State– one of the major forest states in Nigeria, and a leading palm oil state. Edo State Government has committed to responsible oil palm production, becoming a member of the UK-funded Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) Africa Palm Oil Initiative (APOI) in May 2018 and the UK-led Just Rural Transition in September 2019”, the statement said.

Speaking on the joint statement, Eze said the President-Designate of the forthcoming UN climate change conference COP26 to be hosted by the UK, Alok Sharma, said: ”The FACT Dialogue has much work ahead to deliver on its objectives as we move towards COP26. But the publication of today’s joint statement marks a highly important first step in laying the foundation for our work.

“To have brought so many countries together, both producers and consumers, and to plan a way forward on sustainable trade is a fantastic start. I am confident that this is just the beginning as we work to protect trade and development, and our biodiversity-rich forests, in equal measure”.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, reportedly added that; “In Nigeria, the UK is working with the Federal Government, the private sector and with local communities across the country to promote investment in climate-smart practices and business models that will help reduce emissions, increasing productivity and build climate resilience.

“Nigeria’s active engagement in the COP26 FACT Dialogue and their endorsement of the joint statement is very welcome. We look forward to more collaborations like this as we continue to work together towards a common goal of sustainably producing agricultural commodities”.

Eze added that, outlines a set of collaborative principles as well as areas of common purpose and action. “These include four areas; Trade and Market Development; Smallholder Support; Transparency and Traceability; Research, Development, and Innovation, Premium Times reported.

The statement also highlights international commitments and obligations to protect forests such as the Sustainable Development Goals (including Goal 15), the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and agreements under the World Trade Organisation.

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