Lake Chad biosphere reserve will promote regional peace
The establishment of a transboundary biosphere reserve in the Lake Chad region will promote peace among countries in that region including Nigeria, Cameroun, Niger, Central African Republic and Chad.
This was the submission of Ms Flavia Schlegel, the Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences at UNESCO, during the Fifth General Assembly of MAB Network in Africa, held recently in Ibadan.
Ms Schlegel said that on a previous visit to Nigeria, she had discussed with the Federal Government how UNESCO could join national, regional and global efforts to preserve Lake Chad Basin.
Pointing out the importance of this move, she added that “Indeed, this critical ecosystem which should provide livelihood to over 30 million people is facing environmental, social and economic and security issues through land and water degradation, over use, pollution, climate change, leading to loss of job opportunities and livelihoods.”
She, however, stated that in May 2017, an agreement was reached among countries in the region to entrust UNESCO to implement a resuscitation programme for Lake Chad.
“In May 2017, the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the benefitting countries: Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Chad entrusted UNESCO to implement a component of the Programme to Rehabilitate and Strengthen the Resilience of Lake Chad Basin Systems (PRESIBALT). The programme under UNESCO is called BIOPALT for ‘Biosphere and Patrimony Lake Chad’”
The UNESCO official added that “Biopalt has a bold vision and challenging objective,” even as she asked “participating countries to join minds, hearts and hands to create ad transboundary biosphere and world heritage site. This process should serve as a model to promote reconciliation and resilience, and ultimately peace.”
She explained that this could be achieved “through joint governance and management of its natural resources by sharing responsibilities and benefits.
“The biosphere reserve as a peacemaker will require a transformational approach to cooperation from all parties involved and UNESCO will spare no efforts.”