In 1981, the UN General Assembly agreed to set aside a day as the international day of peace, devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace among all nations and people. Subsequently, every September 21 was chosen as the international day of peace.
The 2019 Theme: “Climate Action for Peace” draws our attention to the importance of combating climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world. Climate change has become the most significant challenge of the 21st century causing extreme weather conditions, irregular rainfall patterns, rise in temperatures and clearly threatening local and international peace and security.
As part of activities to mark Peace Day 2019, Building Blocks for Peace Foundation in collaboration with the Centre for Disaster Risk and Crisis Reduction, American Corner Ibadan and the UN information Centre Lagos, organised a one-day Peace and Climate Dialogue under the theme “Climate Action for Peace”.
The event which held on Thursday 19 September, 2019 at the American Corner/IACD Library, Ibadan, Nigeria, brought together scholars, peacebuilders, climate change expert, relevant stakeholders and members of the public to think of a collective action on how to promote advocacy on climate action for sustainable peace. During the dialogue, participants shared their opinions on the dangers of climate change and how stakeholders can work together to ensure climate action for peace.
Mr Rafiu Lawal, the Director of Building Blocks for Peace Foundation while welcoming participants to the event noted that one major effect of climate change in Nigeria is the struggle for land and other resources between farmers and herders which has led to several killings and destruction of farmlands and communities in Plateau, Kaduna, Niger, Ebonyi, Benue, Ekiti, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Enugu and many other States threatening peoples livelihood and the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
The keynote speaker Dr Stephen Faleti of the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies (IPSS), University of Ibadan, who was represented by Dr Lanre Yusuf, spoke extensively on the menace caused by climate change in various parts of Nigeria. He linked climate change to contemporary conflicts including Boko-haram terrorism in the North-eastern part of Nigeria, land-resource conflicts and the Fulani-herdsmen conflicts in various parts of Nigeria. Dr Lanre encouraged the participants to change their attitude towards the environment and see the environment as a ‘baby’ in need of protection. He stressed on the need for massive public sensitization and awareness campaign on the implication of climate change on the environment and identified several ways by which the public can promote climate action for peace. He ended by stating that a good climate is vital for ensuring sustainable peace.
Mr. Sola Fagorunsi of One Life Initiative, Mrs. A.O. Ojewale of the Justice Development and Peace Commission and Mr. Sheriff Ajao of Centre for Disaster Risk and Crisis Reduction engaged the audience in a panel discussion on climate change, food security, and peacebuilding. The panelists explored the implication of climate change in various industries and the need for climate action for peace. Some important recommendations included the need for climate-smart agriculture, access to long-term credit facilities for farmers, sensitization and awareness campaign for farmers on climate change and its implication on agriculture and food security, the need for proactive action, the need for alternative dispute resolution and the need for strengthening local security.
The International Centre for Climate Change and Development Initiative, Africa represented by Miss Abikoye Abimbola, Mr Enitan Tunde and Miss Saya Abigail also facilitated a session on ‘The Role of Youth in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation’. Miss Abimbola emphasised on the need for youth inclusion in decision making and policy implementation and urged for genuine youth partnership for combating climate change.
Professor Gabriel Ogunmola, former chairman of the Nigerian Academy of Science who also graced the occasion noted that, if only we can all possess a thermometer, we will be able to address the problem of climate change.
Goodwill messages were also taken from the representatives of the West African Network for Peacebuilding, Nigeria and the National Orientation Agency-Oyo State.
The concluding remark was given at about 2:42pm by the Deputy Director, Building Blocks for Peace Foundation, Mr Yusuf Olayode who appreciated all invited guest and participants at the commemoration.
Participants left the event with a renewed commitment to support the fight against climate change and treat the environment nicely.
Program Officer, Building Blocks for Peace Foundation.