Cross River asks international climate financiers to give money directly to states
Chikezie OMEJE writes from San Francisco, USA.
WITH over 50 per cent of the forests in Nigeria located in Cross River, the state is proposing that international funds should be given directly to the states, rather than the federal government, to accelerate climate action in the country.
Alice Ekwu, Commissioner for Climate Change and Forestry in Cross River State, made the case on Thursday at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, United States.
Speaking at the session “Local Climate Solutions: Financing the Transition”, Ekwu said innovative financing mechanism is required to combat climate change at the sub-national level and it would require bypassing national government in accessing Green Climate Fund and other global financing opportunities for climate projects.
The Green Climate Fund is a monetary contribution by developed countries to help developing countries to invest in low carbon emissions and adapt to climate change.
For these international funds to make desired impact, Ekwu said states should have direct access to the funds because of the bureaucracy at the federal government.
“Development funds come and they go to national government,” she said. “By the time they trickle down to us, bureaucratic processes often compromise the timelines for the execution of the projects and at the end, nothing is done.”
Ekwu, who has attended annual meetings of Green Climate Fund, said the funds should be placed in the hands of those who are actually taking ambitious climate action at the state level.
“We need the climate action stepped up but the action does not happen in the central government. The actions happen in the states and the regions and we are the actors,” she said.
Ekwu is leading Cross River State in the commitment to the Under 2 Coalition, a group of ambitious state and regional governments committed to keeping global temperature rises to less than two degrees Celsius. She is the only Nigerian speaker at the Global Climate Action Summit.
Cross River is the first state in Nigeria to launch the United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Maintaining and expanding forests is crucial in removing greater amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
With growing population and rising poverty, Nigeria’s forest resources are depleting at alarming rate. It is estimated that Nigeria has lost about two-thirds of its primary forests. The deforestation is mainly caused by unregulated logging for timber and cooking energy as well as poor farming activities.
Parts of the Nigeria’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement include implementing smart agriculture and reforestation. Although under the Nigerian system, the land and forest are owned and maintained by the states.