Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Audrey Azoulay, has cautioned that biodiversity is depleting at an unprecedented speed.
Azoulay, who said this at the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere programme in Abuja, stated that the erosion of biodiversity is no more a hypothesis but a fact the world can now see and feel everyday.
“From the treetops to the ocean depths, and from vertebrates to invertebrates, no species is spared. And we know very well why: because of a lifestyle that is putting pressure on the natural world,” she said.
Azoulay argued: “Indeed, climate and biodiversity are inextricably linked. When one suffers, the other does too, and the Nigerian government knows all too well, especially on the shores of Lake Chad.
“With this impending collapse, not only is human survival at risk, but also the beauty, the poetry, the diversity of the world. The impatient idealist says, ‘Give me a place to stand and I shall move the earth.’ But such a place does not exist.”
On his part, Mr. Edward Kallon, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, noticed that the COVID-19 pandemic brought an unprecedented human crisis that is affecting the most vulnerable and the poorest, especially youths, women and children. He stated that the pandemic has augmented the already existing problems like violent extremism, children staying out of school, poverty and food insecurity.
“We must restore this human-nature safe space by taking responsible steps to conserve biodiversity resources. Our combined attitudes and lifestyles have altered the land around us by clearing forests and other natural terrains to create spaces for urban areas, settlements, agriculture and industries. In doing so, we have reduced the overall space for wildlife.”
Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, said that the programme enables a unique platform for mutual understanding on research and development, ecological restoration, capacity-building and networking, to share information, knowledge and experience on biodiversity loss, climate change and sustainable development.
She noted that the world is going through a planetary crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss, threatening the security of the world’s food supplies and the lives of millions including indigenous people and local communities, especially in the African region.
“The good news is that it is not too late to reverse the current trends, if conservation efforts are scaled up and protected areas are expanded. Protected areas are the cornerstones of biodiversity and conservation,” she added.