The Ministry of the Environment says it is making effort to decontaminate schools across the country before the resumption of students.
Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, the Minister of the Environment, made this known while briefing the newsmen on the activities to kick start the 2020 World Environment Day on Thursday in Abuja.
The World Environment Day is marked every year all over the world on June 5.
Abubakar said the ministry’s health officers in all the six geopolitical zones would handle the exercise before schools resumed.
“We have started decontamination in all the six geopolitical zones and we are now waiting for additional response from the government to accelerate decontamination of schools,” he said.
“We have just concluded arrangement with the management of airport and owners of airlines to disinfect all the airports because aviation is key and must be handled for safety purpose,” he said.
Abubakar, however, said that COVID-19 had been a blessing in disguise to all nations in the area of reduction of emission from vehicles and aircraft among others.
He said because of the lockdown, which affected many countries in the world due to COVID-19, emission in the atmosphere had drastically reduced, which had been very hard to curtail for years.
He said: “The Paris agreement signed by most countries in the world is to cut down emission, but COVID-19 has helped to achieve that.”
He said this year’s WED would be celebrated amidst the ravaging effects of the novel pandemic.
Abubakar said: “While we continue to battle with the crisis as environmentalists, we must continue to contribute our quota in the collective efforts being made to contain the spread of the pandemic.
“For this reason, the UN deems it fit to address biodiversity with the theme: ‘Time for Nature,’ with a focus on its role in providing the essential infrastructure that supports life on earth and human development.”
He said over one million plant and animal species risk extinction largely due to human activities, which calls for action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of nature.
Abubakar said: “The theme is indeed very appropriate, considering the fact that researchers and scientist have established COVID-19 to be zoonotic.
“In order to fully address and prevent future pandemics, therefore, we must restore, conserve and protect biodiversity as key antidotes to COVID-19 recovery.”
According to UNEP, 2020 is a year for urgency, ambition and action to address the crisis facing nature.
Abubakar said it was also an opportunity to fully incorporate nature-based solutions into global climate action, especially as commemorating the day has become a powerful platform to engage communities and governments around the world to take action on challenges facing the planet.
He said: “In this regard, the ministry is using an alternative online platform for delivering the advocacy for this year’s WED.
“The online event will be hosted on ‘Zoom’ with a series of talks as regards our commitment to Biodiversity Conservation.
“Biodiversity is the foundation for life and there are myriads of benefits amongst which are livelihoods and sustainable development, improvement and delivery of food security, growth, increase in job opportunity, strengthening of global healthcare support systems.
“The ecosystem is the baseline that holds all of these together.
“Human interaction with the ecosystem must therefore remain balanced otherwise we risk disrupting nature with their consequence as we are seeing with the COVID 19 pandemic.
“Our climate, physical environment and vegetation zones in Nigeria endow our country with a very diverse ecosystem, species of fauna and flora.
“The forests in Nigeria are currently estimated to extend to around 9.6 million hectares.
“This we are expanding with added efforts of the Great Green Wall, REDD+ and the Green Bonds supported afforestation projects amongst several others.
“From all this, we must ensure that post-COVID recovery is tied to our Climate Actions and Sustainable Development Goals.
“We as a global community have to stay on track with our climate targets for us to recover greener and better for people and planet.”
The minister said biodiversity remained the answer to a number of sustainable development challenges being faced in the country.
Abubakar said: “The Federal Government is fully committed to the Global Biodiversity Framework under the convention on Biological Diversity and Nigeria is leading the ECOWAS member states on Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework.”