By Uwem Kerns
The Akwa Ibom State Government has concluded plans to establish a World Class waste recycling plant to create wealth and renewable energy that would promote a green and safer environment, create employment and increase the revenue profile of the state.
The State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, disclosed this at the opening of the First Akwa Ibom State Climate Change And Clean Energy Summit/Expo held at Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, Uyo.
Governor Emmanuel, who described the theme of the summit “Charting a Roadmap for sustainable Environment And Creation of Green Jobs in Akwa Ibom state” as timely in view of the vast economic potentials available in the state, pointed out that the theme reflect the central plank of his administration’s policy thrust which is job creation and sustainable development and that clean environment is a prerequisite to attracting investment.
“There are untapped resources and opportunities in the state tate begging to be harnessed. A safe environment is a prerequisite to the success of all investments. I therefore call on potential investors to take advantage of the environment friendly disposition of the state to invest.” He noted.
The Governor stated that authorities embrace the issue of climate change with complexities and that his administration has decided to set up a platform for the discourse with a view to tackling the problem before it get out of hand.
“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 analysis across the political spectrum within the hallowed halls of most mature or developed democracies.”
“The 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.”
He pointed out that Akwa Ibom is a coastal state and that the state is vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change which has taken it toil on various sectors of the state economy with serious biophysical and socio-economic consequences adding that 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.
Governor Emmanuel said his administration recognizes that a good response strategy must be developed and judiciously implemented, to checkmate the effect of climate change on developmental programmes and for this reason it has taken steps to upgrade the climate change unit of the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources to a full fleshed Division, recruited professionals to manage the Division and announced that the current review of the State’s Environmental Management Law has a section on climate change mitigation.
He expressed appreciation to the development partners particularly the World Bank and African Development Bank (ADB) for their interest in the development of strategic framework in combating climate change saying that Akwa Ibom has put in place the necessary parameters to access funds from International Agencies and Organisations to facilitate it investment in clean Technology and make the state an export processing web in the global economy.
He wondered why gas is being flared whereas it could have been converted to generate electricity, power automobiles and industries and expressed optimism that the Federal government and oil producing companies plan to end gas flaring by 2030 would mitigate the hazards the people of the region are exposed to.
Mr Emmanuel used the occasion to direct the Technical Committe on Agriculture to plant fruit trees in the major highways across the state.
The Minister of State for Environment Alhaji Ibrahim Usman Jibril lauded Akwa Ibom for being the first state to map out programmes to combat climate change as well as evolve measures to tackle environmental degradation and poverty.
He said climate change occure as a result of human activities which tend to degrade the environment and called for concerted effort by all to stem the tide so as to make planet earth habitable and assured of the Federal government determination to tackle ecological problems plaguing the state.
Alhaji Jibril who charged participants to come up with proposals that would mitigate climate change spoke of the cooperation of his Ministry towards facilitating implementation of decisions reached at the Summit and used the occasion to invite the State Government to partcipate in the National Council on Environment Meeting slated for August at Nassarawa State.
The Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources, Dr. Iniobong Essien, in a keynote address expressed appreciation to the Governor for approving the hosting of the summit which he said has created a platform for scholars to brainstorm and articulate strategies for management and investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation in the state.
He observed that evidence of climate change abound in the state following the changing pattern of rainfall which has aggravated flooding, erosion and accelerated formation of gullies in the state.
Dr Essien pointed out that Akwa Ibom is blessed with renewable energy resources and that the summit would evolve a clear Action plan that would harness the abundant natural resources to create wealth and solicited the cooperation of partners and agencies to help combat environmental challenges emanating from climate change.
The Country Representative of World Bank Dr Amos Abu said the policy thrust of Akwa Ibom State Government aligns with the vision of the World Bank which focuses on poverty eradication, safe environment among other things and announced the inclusion of the state as beneficiary of 2million Dollars to invest in the Green Economy.
DR Akinwumi Adesina of the African Development Bank (ADB) who was represented by Professor Tony Nyong described Akwa Ibom as a global leader in climate change stating that the ADB has mobilised innovative finances to support investmnt in the continent and allocate funds to harnes potentials that would fight insecurity in the Energy sector, Agriculture, industrialisation and open up markets.
He noted that investors are attracted to where the right policies on environment exist and congratulated Governor Udom Emmanuel for the environment friendly, job creation and industrialization dispostion of his administration.