Climate change is defined as a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is, in addition to natural climate variability, observed over comparable time periods (United Nations, 1992; IPCC, 2007). Threat of global climate change is one of the most significant scientific and political challenges of our time.
There are two main ways of responding to climate change: mitigation and adaptation. For the purpose of this treatise, we will be taking a look at both responses and how Cross River State is creating a roadmap to contribute in meeting both as well as mainstreaming them in the state development agenda under the present administration.
According to Wikipedia, Climate change mitigation generally involves reductions in human (anthropogenic) emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Mitigation may also be achieved by increasing the capacity of carbon sinks, e.g., through reforestation. Mitigation can mean using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, or changing management practices or consumer behavior.
Climate Change Adaptation on the other hand involves taking practical actions to manage risks from climate impacts, protect communities and strengthen the resilience of the economy. Adaptation refers to dealing with the impacts of climate change. It may also be viewed as “adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities”
Mainstreaming means that development policies, programmes and/or individual actions that otherwise would not have taken climate change mitigation into consideration explicitly include these when making development choices. This makes development more sustainable. The ease or difficulty with which mainstreaming is accomplished will depend on both the mitigation and adaptation technology or practice, and the underlying development path.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND CROSS RIVER STATE
Cross River State has become of strategic importance when it comes to issues on Climate Change because of the role the state plays in the mitigation of Climate Change globally. The state does not only have more than 40 percent of the remaining Tropical Rain Forest in Nigeria which acts as a major global carbon sink but also has become a leading voice in rallying support for the climate change mitigation and adaptation in Africa.
Recently, the Governor of Cross River State Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade attended and addressed the Climate Change Conference in Paris, meeting on the sideline of the conference. The governor who is a Professor of Environmental Science and the leader of African governors to the Summit was the only African governor to address the Summit.
The Governor in his address called on leaders of the continent to design their own solution to the climate change challenge. He equally made a strong case for the provision of a climate equalization fund for Africa. This in his view will provide alternative means of livelihood for Africa and its people.
Due also to the importance which Cross River State attaches to the issue of Climate change and the strategic role the state is expected to play in the global climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, the Cross River State Governor Sen. Prof. Ben. Ayade has created a ministry of Climate Change and Forestry which is expected to drive policy development and implementation on Climate Change at the state level. At a time like this when issues on Climate Change is on the front burner globally, the importance of such decision cannot be overemphasized.
This Ministry which is headed by Dr. Alice Alok Ekwu, an academic Doctor who hails from Ikom Local Government Area. Dr. Ekwu before her appointment was a lecturer in University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and has done extensive research work covering many areas including the Niger Delta mangrove ecosystem. It is not in doubt that she has the needed capacity to deliver on the objectives of the new ministry.
In furtherance of these objectives, the state Governor also established the Green Police, an organization of young people to raise consciousness about the importance of planting trees and conserving the forests in the Cross River State. The formation of Green Police is to illustrate the importance and resoluteness the government attaches to the reforestation of the state. This is an effort to mitigate climate change in the state.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE STATE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA
The need to mainstream Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in state development agenda cannot be overemphasized. Apart from the fact that if the state must achieve sustainable development, it must take into consideration issues relating to climate change and integrate them in the planning process, it is clear that climate change also poses a serious challenge to the attainment of development goals.
Changing rainfall and climate patterns and rising sea levels has exacerbated existing economic, political and humanitarian stresses and affected human development in all parts of the world. This is especially true for regions, such as ours, which rely heavily on climate-vulnerable sectors such as agriculture, water resources, forests and biodiversity to maintain and improve the living conditions of their populations.
It is therefore important to manage climate change risks as part of our development approach. Mainstreaming Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation as part of our development agenda has the promise of not only promoting sustainable development but also harnessing opportunities for value creation and reducing poverty in our state.
Mainstreaming these also into an ongoing policy formulation process and state development agenda with a sector wide approach is the only sustainable way to achieve our state vision. It involves understanding the linkages between climate change and state development priorities and understanding the governmental, institutional and political contexts that inform our choices.
Cross River State has thus taken a step in the right direction by positioning itself as a leading state in Africa on the issue of climate change and setting up structures to drive the achievement of set objectives in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in the state, country and continent.
It is important thus for the ministry of Climate Change and Forestry, working closely with relevant stakeholders, to implement the roadmap for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in the state, create a Cross River State Climate Profile, assess climate change risks and opportunities in the state and mainstream climate change into the state’s development agenda.
If all of these which form part of the Cross River State Climate Change Roadmap can be achieved, then the state will well be on the way to leading a new era of global action on Climate Change as a strategic player from the African continent. This is the vision of the present administration.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND CARNIVAL CALABAR
Carnival Calabar also known as Africa’s biggest street party is a unique display of Cross River State heritage showcased through music, dance, drama and visual creativity which is reflected in the design of floats, costumes and make-up. Carnival Calabar takes place in December each year, and is the highpoint of the 32-day Calabar Festival which runs from 30th November to 1st January annually.
In a bid to create more awareness on and further bring clarity to the issues related to climate change in Cross River State in particular and Nigeria in general, the governor of Cross River State declared “Climate Change” as the theme of the 2015 Carnival Calabar. The theme will be expected to be interpreted by the various Carnival Bands in various ways including costumes, floats and presentations.
As part of the intention to “green cap” Cross River State through planting of trees, there will also be an aspect of the annual Carnival Calabar which would be called Green Carnival. Everyone coming to the carnival would do so with his own specie of tree, and they shall all move around in what would be called Green March displaying such tree. The carnival participants would also be expected to plant such tree so that next time he comes around he would visit the tree and nurture it.
With such an initiative, thousands of trees will be planted in Cross River State annually. This is expected to further contribute to the reforestation of the state and mitigate climate change. Clearly, this is an innovation in the Cross River State tourism vision and connects both sectors perfectly for desirable outcomes.
Climate change poses a serious challenge to social and economic development in the world today. We are convinced that comprehensive action by Cross River State will go a long way to contribute to the global effort in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Therefore, we eagerly look forward to the state continuing to blaze the trail in this area as we join hands with the rest of the world to save our planet.
Emmanuel Etim is a development consultant based in Nigeria. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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