On behalf of the good people of Akwa Ibom State, I welcome you to this exceedingly important event – the First Akwa Ibom State Climate Change and Clean Energy Summit, holding in our serene and beautiful Capital City of Uyo.
I want to commend the Ministry of Environment for organizing this event, and for gathering together under one roof, such an eclectic range of academics and other world renowned technocrats whose voices and opinion resonate powerfully within this field.
The theme of this Summit, “Charting a Roadmap for Sustainable Development and Creation of Green Jobs”, mirrors one of the central planks of my campaign platform, which is job creation and Sustainable Development.
As most of you are aware, climate change is one of the most complex issues of our time. It has elicited the most ideologically contentious discourse and analyses across the political spectrum within the hallowed halls of most mature or developed democracies.
To some pundits especially those on the conservative ideological spectrum, climate change is a hoax, a liberal subterfuge that is aimed at slowing down the advance of capitalism and the accompanying laisser-faire mantra. To the liberals, it is an existential issue – one that can’t be wished away or get bogged down, by ideological bromides or platitudes. We must conserve our resources today for the future or lose today and subject our children to an uncertain future- liberals maintain.
This issue has illuminated the political currents in the highly industrial Northern Hemisphere and a scant interest in the largely developing economies of the Southern Hemisphere. It is thus highly gratifying that our dear state is hosting this Summit and in the process, help start a conversation on this key issue. We believe that climate change is real, and we must tackle it headlong.
Akwa Ibom, as a coastal state, is very vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. In fact, climate change is already affecting various sectors of the State economy with serious biophysical and socio-economic consequences. Many coastal and riverine communities in the state are already relocating due to the rise in sea levels leading to excessive flooding while others have been submerged.
This Government recognizes that unless a good response strategy is developed and judiciously implemented, climate change may negate some of our developmental efforts.
Let me use this opportunity to inform you that the focus of this administration is on industrialization. We have set in motion a massive mechanics and drive to achieve this through the constitution of key Technical Committees- Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Agriculture and Food sufficiency as well as that of the realization of the Ibom Deep Seaport, signing of MOUs, ground-breaking ceremonies- all these efforts are aimed at deepening our economic base and weaning us off of our over dependence on oil.
Some of these projects include the Ibom Industrial City which will house the deepest seaport in Nigeria (the Ibom Deep Seaport), an Automobile Assembly Plant, LED factory to produce low energy bulbs, metering plant in Onna, the coconut refinery to be located in Ikot Abasi, Mkpat-Enin Eastern Obolo axis and numerous other large-scale industries that are in the works.
So far, the effort to protect, preserve and prepare our environment for the expected industrial revolution has been fairly successful. This is made possible through the successful implementation of various environment-friendly policies in the State. For instance, with the reintroduction of the monthly sanitation and proper waste management system, the state has recorded remarkable improvements in environmental sanitation.
Let me inform you that in responding to the challenges of climate change, the state has proactively put in place measures aimed at tackling the adverse effects of climate change. To coordinate the activities, the State Government has set up a Multi-sectorial Technical Committee on climate change.
Government has also upgraded the climate change unit at the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources to full fleshed Division and recruited professionals to man and run the Division. Furthermore, the current review of the State’s Environmental Management Law has a section on climate change mitigation.
The core objective of this summit is to address issues that will support Akwa Ibom State’s transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy considering our unique climate change vulnerability as a coastal state. The summit will also enable the State to explore the abundant renewal energy resources and innovative technologies that would enable it contribute to the goal of providing universal access to energy in Africa by the year 2025.
I am aware that Nigeria’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) blueprint submitted as part of the negotiations leading to Paris Agreement aligns with the theme of this summit. Therefore, as a major oil producing State, we desire to work with the Federal Government and other Stakeholders in achieving the INDC targets especially, on ending gas flaring by 2030 and increasing energy efficiency.
In our effort to turn waste to wealth, this Administration has focused on recycling of waste as an alternative means of removing useful products from the huge wastes generated in the State. This will help in achieving our desired goal of providing employment and generating income for the citizenry.
Distinguished guests and participants, it may interest you to note that as part our effort to reduce our carbon footprint, the bags used in this summit are all made from recyclable materials. These materials help to promote local content development and ensure environmental sustainability.
There are untapped resources and opportunities in the State begging to be harnessed. A safe environment is a prerequisite to the success of all investments. We therefore call on potential investors to take advantage of the peaceful and peace loving environment of the State to invest.
I invite Development Partners and Investors to partner with the State Government in our plan to establish the first clean technology and export processing hub in West Africa and the First Low Carbon City in Akwa Ibom State.
I urge you to support the State to develop a strategic framework for management and investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation, develop a strategy for the creation of clean/green jobs, creating a road map for clean energy transformation, as well as the development of concrete projects that can be presented at COP22 in Morocco for implementation as part of the Paris Agreement.
Please, permit me to thank the Honourable Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed for her numerous support to the State especially, approving the State’s participation in Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), a World Bank Assisted Project focused on intervening at erosion sites as well as reducing vulnerability to gully erosion menace.
I am optimistic that at the end of this summit, a framework or road map on how to tackle climate change in our state in particular and our country in general would have been developed.
It is therefore, on this note that I officially declare open the First Akwa Ibom State Climate Change and Clean Energy Mega Summit/Expo.
I wish all the participants fruitful deliberations and implore you to enjoy the warm hospitality of Akwa Ibom State. God bless Akwa Ibom State, God bless Nigeria.
Thank you and God bless you all.
Being address delivered by His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, during the First Akwa Ibom State Climate Change and Clean Energy Mega Summit/Expo holding from Tuesday, 26 to Thursday, 28 July, 2016 at Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, Uyo.