Lesson for Nigeria’s super rich as Gabon gets support to conserve 30% territory
Nigeria’s millionaires have been urged to emulate some of the world’s richest families like the founder of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos and founder of Walmart Inc., Ben Walmart who have entered into a financial arrangement to help the planet’s second-most forested nation, Gabon conserve 30 per cent of its natural capital.
The Guardian learnt that the new deal with Gabon is backed by a partnership that includes The Nature Conservancy, Pew Charitable Trusts and Zomalab, which is the office of Ben and Lucy Ana Walton, the family that founded Walmart Inc.
Also, money has been provided by Bezos of Amazon. Although, details of the deal have not been made public.
Gabon is home to large populations of endangered forest elephants and lowland gorillas and its waters host a number of whale and dolphin species.
Under the agreement, known as Project Finance for Permanence, the central African nation will bring to 80,000 square kilometers (30,888 square miles) the amount of forest under protection, 60,000 square kilometers of ocean and 19,000 square kilometers of rivers by 2030, the country said in a joint statement with its funders.
Gabon’s environmental minister, Lee White, said: “We plan to develop innovative “sustainable finance mechanisms to protect our lands, oceans, and freshwater resources. We are committed to developing this PFP as a step-change for Gabon’s approach to financing nature.”
Speaking on the development, the former President, Nigerian Environmental Society (NES), Dr. Dorothy Bassey, said the rich in Nigeria should emulate such disposition to live a legacy that generations yet unborn will be grateful for.
She said if the rich will want to live a long lasting legacy, they should help the country in addressing some of its environmental challenges, protect areas that should be protected by all means.
Dorothy said: “One things that are missing is lack of knowledge. It is what you know that you will do. We have seen over times countries, families doing things that are not for profit, but for the benefit of humanity. That is what money is meant for. We must think of legacy that we want to leave behind as a person. One of the ways to touch lives is through investment on the environment. The environment really needs help. “
According to her, actions and activities that can help the environment require huge resources.
“We have the richest man in Africa and the richest women in Africa all in Nigeria. It is a wake up call to them to feel their impact. They may not be helping the environment because they don’t know that they should,” she said.
She explained that investing in such activities might not bring returns in investors’ lifetime, stressing that this should not bring discouragement, as it is a lasting legacy.
“ People who plant trees are not the ones who seat under the trees. Life is a cycle, the planet exists by the interactions of all the environmental elements. For example, if our biodiversity is threatened, it will affect elements that we don’t even know because every ant has a role to play, flowers have roles to play and they all don’t germinate and produce fruits at the same time and God alone knows the reasons.
The balance must be maintained and that is what environmental preservation and conservation is all about.”
An Associate Research Professor, Climate Change Studies and Environmental Education, Lagos State University, (LASU), Ahovi Michael, noted that the lessons for Nigeria’s super rich people is to help conserve the environment from deterioration.
“ For instance, if you go to Cross River, we have very thick forest and the people even though their forest is rich, they are going through poverty and their livelihood and economy is low. Our rich men should invest in those communities; improve the livelihood of the Indigenous People in the rich forest. “
He said such move would go a long way in conserving the forest and make the people not to yield to those who may want to deforest their area.
Michael said climate change experts could be deployed to identify the forest rich areas in Nigeria, mark them out to preserve and invest in them. He said this would help Nigeria in absorbing carbondioxide.
He stated that Gabon and Congo have one of the richest green economies, otherwise called forests in Africa. These countries, he stressed, are also due for investment from $100 billion that the developed countries are sending out every year to tame climate change.