LAGOS, 23 September:
In a further sign that Africa is mobilizing for its voice to be heard at the COP17 negotiations in Durban, the Mayors of major cities and chairmen of local governments across West Africa met this week in Lagos, Nigeria, to endorse and sign the African Mayors Climate Change Declaration.
Tunji Bello, Lagos State Commissioner for the Environment, expressed the feelings of many delegates as they arrived: “All over the landscape of Africa, we can feel the excruciating consequences of global warming. We can feel it in agriculture, wildlife, extreme weather conditions, coastal damage, drought, health risks and water scarcity.”
He added: “We must admit that Africa is disadvantaged in the fight against climate change. It has less capacity to respond to climate challenges, contributes less to the emission of greenhouse gases but ironically is most vulnerable to the dire consequences of changing climate. Africa thus needs to be an active partaker in multilateral efforts to act.
“As the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, Africa needs to get prepared for more inclusive suitable options to replace it. A collective response towards fighting climate change is for global public good and Africa’s interest.”
The two day Special Congress was attended by over 400 delegates and was organized by Lagos State Government in collaboration with the International Council Local Environmental Initiative (ICLEI). Some of the mayors present at the signing of the declaration included those from major cities such as Malabo, Equatorial Guinea; Cotonou, Benin; Dakar, Senegal; and Lagos, Nigeria. More than 80 mayors and chairmen of local governments signed the Climate Change Declaration.
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State was the first to sign the Climate Change Declaration which was first launched in Cape Town earlier this year and which calls for an “equitable and comprehensive MRV (Measurable, Reportable and Verifiable) global climate framework deal in Durban on the occasion of the UNFCC COP17”.
He made the point: “It is the Governors, Mayors and Provincial heads who would stand to impact change and adaptation strategies more than national leaders such as Prime Ministers and Presidents because former live with the problem while the latter relate to it peripherally.”
Governor Fashola said: “From New York to Mumbai, Lagos to Mississippi, Ibadan to Pakistan, Japan to Australia, thousands of human lives and billions of dollars worth of property have perished with it, including farmlands which provided our major source of sustenance."
“All of these have happened in peace time, without war. This is the reality that we face. An enemy whose army is not known. A force created by our own actions and inactions that is taking human lives almost at will through extreme weather conditions such as droughts, flood, severe winter, tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes and typhoons.”
He urged more collaboration among African countries and more action at community level. Governor Fashola said Nigeria needed to be pro-active given the size of the country’s population.