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Lagos seeks proactive measures against land degradation

The Lagos State Government has urged residents to take proactive measures to address land degradation and enhance resilience to drought.

The Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tokunbo Wahab, said this at the grand finale of the 2024 World Environment Day Celebration on Saturday in Lagos.

Wahab said the state was not immune to natural challenges of being a megacity with growing population and rapid urbanisation.

He described the theme: “Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience”, as a call to action to address the challenges of land degradation, desertification, and drought issues that threaten the existence and future of the planet.

Wahab said that land degradation, driven by unsustainable agricultural practices, deforestation, and climate change, affects about 1.9 billion hectares of land globally.

He explained that desertification is the process by which fertile land becomes desert and this happens in over 168 countries making it one of the most significant environmental challenges of our time.

He stressed that droughts have become more frequent and severe, exacerbating the impacts of climate change and threatening the resilience of the ecosystems.

“In our nation, these challenges are particularly pronounced as Nigeria, with its vast and diverse landscapes, faces significant threats from land degradation and desertification, especially in the northern region,” Wahab said.

He said that desert encroachment and the loss of arable land were affecting agricultural productivity, water resources, and the livelihoods of millions of Nigerians.

He emphasised that the health nature of the land directly impacts food security, water availability, biodiversity, livelihoods and overall well-being.
He added that these crises affect millions of people worldwide.

“Sustainable Land Management initiative not only enhances soil fertility and productivity but also separates carbon, contributing to climate change mitigation,” Wahab said.

Wahab stated that there is a Community Engagement and Education initiative meant for empowering communities with knowledge and crucial resources.

He added that the state is conducting extensive outreach programmes to educate farmers, local leaders, and citizens on sustainable practices that promote land restoration and drought resilience.

“The journey ahead may be daunting, but I am confident that with our collective determination, we can overcome these challenges.

“Our efforts to restore our land, combat desertification, and enhance our resilience to drought will yield lasting benefits for our environment, economy, and future generations,” he said.

The commissioner who also dwelt on enforcement efforts of the administration said there was no going back on the application of the law to all environmental infractions.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Environment, Mr Olakunle Rotimi-Akodu, noted that the ecosystems are under immense pressure from urbanization, climate change, pollution, and unsustainable land use practices.

He added that amidst these challenges lies an opportunity for all to come together, re-imagine the relationship with nature, recreate sustainable solutions, and restore the balance that is essential for the well-being of the planet and future generations.

He said the state government has long been at the forefront of environmental conservation and sustainability efforts which include tree planting initiatives to waste management reforms.

He said another example could be seen in the recent ban on styrofoam food containers amongst other saying, the government has demonstrated the unwavering commitment to environmental management.

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary Office of Environmental Services, Dr Gaji Tajudeen, reminded participants of the environmental challenges confronting the planet.

Tajudeen noted that the World Environment Day celebration serves not only to raise awareness but also to inspire action towards sustainable practices that would safeguard the environment for generations to come.

The Guest Speaker, Dr Soladoye Iwajomo, described land restoration as the process of arresting degradation or rehabilitating degraded land and restoring its productivity through reforestation, soil conservation and protecting natural processes.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Green Awards were presented to private sector operators in Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Reporting and Environmental Restoration Categories respectively.

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