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Stakeholders caution policymakers over post-COVID-19 recovery plans

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Following the multidimensional impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s economic outlook, International Support Network for African Development (ISNAD-Africa), an initiative implemented in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), yesterday said tougher times await developing economies if policymakers fail to design and implement friendly environmental economic recovery plans.

The United Nations had projected that the global economy lost nearly $8.5 trillion in output due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the economic slump wiped out nearly all gains of the past four years.

In Nigeria, the International Food Policy Research Institute had noted that during lockdown alone, Nigeria’s GDP suffered a 34.1 per cent loss, amounting to $16 billion.

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A holistic approach towards addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19 includes developing Green and Just Recovery Plan post-COVID-19, some have suggested. The effort focused on reviving the social and economic dimension of development without giving commensurate attention to the environmental dimension may be setting the stage for future erosion of the gains of socioeconomic development on the continent, ISNAD-Africa’s Sonma Okoro said in a statement.

“There is a compelling need for governments in African countries to develop and implement recovery plans that foster nature conservation, protection of biodiversity, climate resilience among other environmental dimensions.

“Africa needs to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with a more resilient, safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly economy. Post COVID-19 recovery plans developed by governments in Africa should enshrine their commitments to achieving zero pollution, non-toxic environment and sustainable development goals,” she noted.

With the growing cases of diseases from animals to humanity and the huge devastation due to the underlining negligence and resultant multidimensional losses to the global economy as experienced with COVID-19, Ebola, Lassa Fever, among others; ISNAD-Africa stressed the need for African leaders to ‘walk the talk’ in their commitments to environmental issues.

Recall that most African leaders are currently signatories to the Paris’ climate agreement, while thirteen heads of governments in Africa committed to the Leaders Pledge for Nature.

Commending the political will demonstrated by signing the pledge and agreement are commendable, Okoro stated that the decision must move beyond political commitment by putting the pledges and agreement to action.

The pledge includes a commitment to finance tracking and reporting frameworks for ensuring efficient, transparent use of existing resources which would also help to address corruption and financial mismanagement on the continent.

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“This strategy for a green and just recovery can help resolve Africa’s long fight against corruption”, she asserted.
While 27 per cent of Nigeria’s labor force accounting for 21 million Nigerians are reportedly unemployed as poverty level hits record high, the non-profit organisations said resource mobilisation for nature-based solutions would not only support biodiversity but contribute to poverty alleviation.

They added that building back better from the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic requires that African governments, business leaders among other stakeholders increase their commitment to sustainable supply chains and significantly encourage practices that regenerate ecosystems.

“Why deploy economic recovery plans that would only lay foundation blocks for future pandemics, among other health emergencies arising from environmental neglect? This is what we are doing by leaving out the environmental dimension in our post-COVID-19 recovery plans. A green and just recovery post-COVID-19 is a profitable investment. The benefits of restoring natural resources outweigh its costs by ten-fold –inaction is much costlier,” Okoro said.

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