Prof. U. Joy Ogwu

Ambassador and Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations

New York, NY

20th July 2011

As Delivered

I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for convening this open debate and for the concept paper circulated by your delegation (S/2011/408, annex). I also thank the Secretary-General and Mr. Achim Steiner for their perceptive and inspiring statements. This debate is timely in that it affords us the opportunity to evaluate progress in implementing the internationally agreed development goals, conventions and protocols that frame our response to climate change. Through this discussion, we can also contribute effectively to preparations for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

 The challenges posed by climate change are immense and the consequences for peace and security wide-ranging. Every aspect of our lives, from food security to resource management, is threatened by this phenomenon. As we have witnessed in the current food crisis in the Horn of Africa, threats to water management, animal health and crop production are magnified by political instability and insecurity. Scarcity breeds fear, which in turn fuels conflict. This chain reaction demands vigilance on the part of the Security Council. Unless we take concerted action to mitigate and adapt, the risks will only increase. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that  a 1-metre sea-level rise could flood 18,000 square kilometers of Nigeria’s coastal land, damage assets valued at $89 billion, and force the relocation of up to 5 million Nigerians. The cost of protecting Nigeria from such a rise in sea levels is estimated at $3 billion.

 On the basis of those facts, we are gravely concerned about the potential impact of changing climate conditions. Nigeria is working with bilateral and multilateral partners at the regional and international levels to identify solutions to these challenges. My Government has also sought to mainstream its mitigation and adaptation strategies with development policies aimed at significantly reducing carbon emissions and sustaining its campaign against desertification.

 Nigeria remains committed to the Millennium Development Goals and the Green Wall Sahara (Nigeria) Programme, which seeks to ensure sustainable consumption and production. We have initiated mechanisms to address the issue of gas flaring, firmly determined to progressively transform it into liquefied gas processing. We are engaging in research on methods of carbon-dioxide reduction in petroleum products.

 While we recognize that not every nation is equipped to implement root-and-branch policy change, it is important that every nation, no matter how small, play a small part. My delegation is concerned about the slow rate of progress in achieving agreement on implementing international climate change mitigation agreements. Nations have too often failed to honour their commitments to such frameworks, and such failures have reverberations everywhere. In many cases, the efforts of developing countries and small island developing States to adapt to the negative impacts of climate change are undermined by natural disasters and often by conflict. Our struggle to protect our climate should therefore reflect the additional challenges faced by such nations, and should feature in our wider peacebuilding frameworks.

 I firmly believe that if we can support political stability, we can create the space for long-term capacity-building and the embedding of best practices and national policies for climate change. The United Nations system is uniquely placed to guide the implementation of the existing commitments in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the Mauritius Declaration.

 Seated around this table are those who could encourage developed countries to implement their commitments to reducing emissions and supporting developing countries with the requisite technological and financial assistance to address climate change effectively. Nigeria therefore calls for enhanced efforts for the equitable distribution of adaptation funds and capacity-building programming, as well as promotion of the Global Environment Facility programme steered by the United Nations Development Programme.

 Our response to climate change must be rooted in political and technological innovation. Our response to climate change should not be any less strong in the field of sustainable development. The General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Commission on Sustainable Development and the United Nations Environment Programme are credible and concrete platforms for effectively discussing and adopting appropriate measures for dealing with climate change. I want to reiterate my Government’s commitment to relentlessly supporting, promoting and fulfilling all regional and international obligations for mitigating climate change in a collective effort that seeks to ensure the well-being of present and future generations. We will be steadfast in the collective effort that seeks to ensure that peace and stability are maintained in the world.