Civil societies and their partners play an important role in influencing the integration of biodiversity conservation into Poverty Reduction Strategies. The case of Nigeria Conservation Foundation’s contributions to the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy is testimony to their unique role. Such initiatives will facilitate sustainable development and poverty alleviation at Important Bird Areas.
Nigeria ranks 158 out of 177 countries in the UN Human Development Index (UNDP 2007). In an attempt to improve the situation, and in line with the World Bank initiated Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), the Nigerian Government implemented an economic reform programme from 2003 to 2007: the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS). The purpose was to raise the country’s standard of living through a variety of reforms, including macroeconomic stability, deregulation, liberalization, privatization, transparency, and accountability (Library of Congress 2006). NEEDS elements are fully integrated and related to Nigeria’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and provide a policy framework for all projects and plans embarked upon by public and private sectors. The Government is developing a NEEDS-2 to consolidate and move forward the achievements initiated.
Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF; BirdLife in Nigeria), a leading environmental organization in the country, made interventions using a three step methodology. Firstly, NCF submitted a letter to the National Planning Commission (NPC; responsible for drafting NEEDS-2) highlighting six key issues (see below). Secondly, they participated in the Donors Coordinating Group on the Environment where NCF’s concerns were included in the outcome. Thirdly, they sought support from partners to work with the Nigerian National Parks Service, focusing on the proposed strategies for Protected Areas relevant to Important Bird Areas (IBAs).
The key issues that NCF highlighted were: (1) Implications of current realities to achieve MDG targets (e.g., NEEDS-2 should emphasis a halt to the trends for de-gazettement of forest reserves and conversion of wetlands to farmlands); (2) The need to clarify which aspects of Protected Areas will be privatized and to explore opportunities to establish marine protected areas (given the extensive marine resources in southern Nigeria); (3) The imperative for a statement of intent on how to tackle trade in endangered species and how to regain Nigeria’s integrity in CITES; (4) The need to re-examine unrealistic timelines and review actual degradation levels to appreciate the problems to be solved (e.g., to rehabilitate only 30% of 2004 environmental degradation by 2011); (5) The importance of clear strategies that integrate natural resource management and other sectors (e.g., water resources and wetlands, dry-land management and deserts); and (6) the principle and strategy of developing a climate policy hand-in-hand with the national environmental agenda.
This illustrates how civil society, through NCF, is working with the Nigerian Government to ensure that biodiversity conservation is integrated into its Poverty Reduction Strategy, facilitating sustainable development and poverty alleviation at IBAs.
BirdLife International (2008) Integrating conservation and development through Nigeria's national planning processes. Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/229. Checked: 22/05/2013