The Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet), says the UN Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degraded Forests (REDD+) National Capacity Building engagement meeting in Cross River will encourage experience sharing.
The meeting is aimed at forming more strategic alliances in the REDD+ and climate change processes by engaging Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Forest Dependent Communities (FDCs).
Mr Atayi Babs, the National Network Coordinator of CSDevNet, a coalition of civil society groups, said this in a statement signed by Mr James Odey, the South-South Coordinator of CSDevNet on Friday in Abuja.
The REDD+ programme is the UN collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in developing countries.
Babs said that the workshop would be organised by the Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet) in Partnership with the National REDD+ Secretariat, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of the World Bank.
“The capacity building and engagement meeting facilitated national exchange is to encourage first-hand learning and sharing of experiences from civil society members and Forest Dependent Communities (FDCs) engaged in the REDD+ processes.
“The reason for the workshop is to form more strategic alliances in the REDD+ and climate change processes by engaging Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Forest Dependent Communities in sharing experiences on the journey so far, with UN-REDD+ in Nigeria.’’
Babs said that the project which, started in Cross River had been replicated in two other states – Nassarawa and Ondo states, adding that REDD+’s major stakeholders were CSOs.
“The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) engagement meeting, in addition to facilitating knowledge exchange is a platform to expand conversations and broaden partnerships around REDD+ readiness processes, while at the same time contributing toward the National REDD+ Strategy and Processes.’’
Dr Alice Ekwu, the Cross River State Commissioner for Climate Change and Forestry, represented by Mr Ogbong Akwaji, the Permanent Secretary and Chairman of REDD+ Committee, thanked the organisers for the meeting.
“The state government is impressed with progress made over the years and is aware of the benefits of afforestation making great strides in the overall interest of Nigerians.
“Although, the target of planting five million trees had not been met, so many afforestation projects have been done and we ask for more engagements to sensitise even more of the rural communities.’’
Dr Amah Moses, the National REDD+ Coordinator said that the workshop was a sign indicating that progress was being made.
He stressed the need for tangible beneficial results in communities and for individuals in the afforestation efforts.
“REDD+ started in Cross River as a pioneer state and if there’s no tangible progress made, other states will be reluctant to be a part of the programme.’’
He encouraged participants to be open to learn and to share ideas in the course of the workshop.
“All CSOs working with REDD+ have connectivity and must work together with reference to CSDevNet has demonstrated through this engagement meeting,’’ she added.
Mr Patrick Bassey, the State Coordinator of REDD+, said that CSOs were independent, voluntary non-business groups, non-governmental, community or faith-based organisations, whose main purpose was promote the interest of the common man.
He further emphasised that the workshop was designed to broaden the knowledge of CSOs involved in the REDD+ programme and they were available to make the government accountable, effective and legitimate through positive engagements.
Mr Joachims Offum, one of the locals representing Njua Kaku communities, raised concerns that even with task forces put in place; trailers of logged woods still left the community regularly without being checked.
He pleaded for actual implementation of the rules against logging, which should be enforced by the government, adding that “when the forest is totally gone, REDD+ too will be gone’’.
Mr Pius Oko, the CSDevNet Project Officer said that “REDD+ is everybody’s business that leaves no one behind so the maxim should be if we work together, we will all benefit together.’’
“In Nigeria, the key objective of the CSDevNet-led FCPF project is to form a synergy with, and complement the efforts of the CSOs and FDCs in advancing the course of the REDD+ in Nigeria.
“As a network, we aim to deepen the knowledge and experience sharing of CSOs and local communities in Nigeria on REDD+ Readiness at the national level.
“We also want to sensitise local communities and CSOs targeting women and the youth on REDD+ and climate change processes as well as strengthen the linkage between CSO groups, government, and the media to promote our project.”
According to Oko, this solution is targeted at reducing forest losses caused by farming, rearing of animals and logging, among other drawbacks.“The environment is getting hotter and there is a gradual increase in emissions: REDD+ was therefore established for reducing the emission from deforestation and degradation, thus bringing about forest conservation,” he said.
By EBERE AGOZIE