ECOWAS countries have taken significant steps to address the exploitation and loss of species in Africa by launching a regional coordination process for the designation of new protected areas.
The aim of this initiative is to ensure that direct exploitation no longer contributes to global biodiversity loss on the African continent. This announcement was made by Nigeria’s president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, during the “High-Level Event for Nature and People: From Ambition to Action” held on the sidelines of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
President Tinubu, represented by Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Iziaq Salako, emphasised the importance of committing to higher ambitions to prevent unsustainable exploitation and species loss collectively. He noted that while governance challenges have hindered Africa’s progress, unfair treatment, broken promises, and exploitation from abroad have also taken a toll on the continent.
Tinubu highlighted the inequities in the impact of the biodiversity crisis, particularly within ECOWAS countries. He pointed out that the lack of solutions in these regions has led to increased poverty, jeopardised food security, and forced rural populations to relocate. Additionally, he highlighted the disparities in the burden placed on countries to implement global commitments, with biodiversity-rich countries like those in ECOWAS incurring higher costs and scrutiny.
Tinubu stated, “There is inequity in the level of global ambition shown to address the crisis.” He called for unity and a shared vision to address these challenges effectively.
Tinubu also shared a significant commitment from African nations. “I am proud to announce today that with Nigeria playing a rallying role, African nations have reached a consensus to support ratifying, at the earliest feasible date, the new international ocean treaty for the high seas. For Nigeria, this is an essential and urgent step, and we invite all of you to ratify this treaty promptly”.
In addition to this commitment, President Tinubu called on all African countries to prioritise nature finance to achieve ambitious conservation targets. He emphasised that reaching goals like the 30×30 conservation target would require increased efforts and cooperation in addressing the nature finance gap. Last year, the world agreed to fully close the nature-finance gap and set a near-term target of delivering at least $20 billion in international finance to the Global South by 2025.
Tinubu concluded his statement by urging all participants to take action and envision solutions that will preserve nature for future generations. This regional initiative represents a significant step toward addressing the critical issues of exploitation and species loss in Africa while emphasising the importance of global cooperation and shared responsibility.