Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all very warmly and proudly to the 7th consecutive edition of the Lagos State Annual Climate Change Summit.
I am glad that we took the initiative and even more delighted that we sustained it.
I am thankful to Dr. Muiz Banire, the Honourable Commissioner for the Environment in my first term of office and to Dr. Tunji Bello, who succeeded him in my second term of office and to members of their team, especially in the Ministry of Environment that they required little, if any persuasion to undertake this journey with me.
Of course without you the participants, our resource persons year after year and our numerous partners and sponsors, there would have been perhaps no summit.
For you all, my gratitude is deep and profound.
The only thing I can add is to make a request, that as I yield the baton of Governor to our Governor-elect, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, you must not drop the baton.
I urge you to even give more support to him and his team to continue this awareness about the danger to the environment and evolve mitigation and adaption strategies that will help all of us survive and realize the various aspirations that we have.
As we have heard from Conservation International in that epical documentary, nature and the environment do not need us, we need them.
They will evolve. Can we?
Nature and environment have been here long before we came, many species have come before us and they have gone. We have come and we will go.
Nature and the environment will remain.
The greater challenge is ours, to understand how to conserve nature’s gift, to adapt to nature’s evolution, to mitigate against the hazards of the environment, and to seek for sustainability in all that we do.
Every year, our Summit has been built around a theme that seeks to highlight these issues of conservation, mitigation, adaption, vulnerability and their impacts on our daily lives.
From transportation, to housing, infrastructure, our reproductive lives, our life expectancy, business, our general well being, poverty and prosperity, the environment plays a crucial role and we ignore it at our peril.
Our maiden summit theme was “Towards a Lagos State Climate Change Adaption Strategy”, followed by “Trans-boundary Effects of Climate Change Sharing Best Practices in Mitigation”. And then we had “Charting a Road Map for Combating Climate Change in Nigeria” followed by “Vulnerability and Adaptability to Climate Change in Nigeria: Lagos State Agriculture, Industry and Health Sectors in Focus” and next by “Vulnerability and Adaptability to Climate Change in Nigeria – Lagos State Transport, Housing and Infrastructure in Focus” and subsequently “Exploring Business Opportunities in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: Lagos State in Focus”.
This year’s theme, “Celebrating Success Stories, Reviewing Challenges and Setting Future Agenda”, will not be different.
The theme provides us in my view, with an opportunity to measure progress, assess what we have not overcome, and chart a course for the future.
Because the occasion is time constrained, it will be impossible to give a detailed account of our success stories, but I will attempt a summary.
First I wish to state that not even our harshest critics and even the cynics, who called us all sorts of names when we started our greening programmme, can deny its success and the fact that we are leaving a greener Lagos behind.
After planting over 5 million trees, creating 196 parks and over 90,000 jobs that did not exist before, and a Parks and Gardens Agency created for maintenance and sustainability, I am proud to acclaim the success of our Greening initiative, not only for its audacity in the face of doubts, but for its sustainability in jobs and economic development.
Secondly in the area of Energy Conservation, our 5 (Five) Independent Power Plants have led to the reduction of power costs in running some critical public utilities likes schools, court rooms, water works, hospitals and police stations, by close to 40%.
But this is not the end of the journey, they have used cleaner fuel, mainly gas, and led to the decommissioning of 400 (Four Hundred) generators and an annual Co2 emission reduction of 1,017,000,000 lbs leading to a cleaner environment by the reduction of pollution.
Currently, 127 public schools and 11 primary Healthcare Centres are benefiting from the installation of solar power to further deepen these gains.
The economic impact of engineers, fitters, technicians and many similar jobs created by these initiatives makes us proud to acclaim that we have tapped into the economics of the environment.
In the area of solid waste management, construction of transfer loading stations, no less than 15,000 (Fifteen Thousand) people are employed as street sweepers, and the PSP waste collection system currently employs at least 9,000 (Nine Thousand) people who hitherto were unemployed.
Waste management in Lagos is a much improved undertaking and I am glad that we finally lost the unenviable appellation of one of the dirtiest cities in the world, and we have now become the centre of study for how to manage solid waste, not only within Nigeria but within the West African sub-region.
Our cooking gas initiative to our women and rural communities has benefited 20,000 (Twenty Thousand) people and is gradually reducing the need for cutting trees for firewood.
Our Climate Change Clubs in our schools are targeting and successfully attracting the next generation to sustainable environmental habits that will help them adapt better than we have done.
Ladies and gentlemen, the list is long, but as you know, we are not a self adulating government.
We hold office not because of our successes, but because of our willingness to confront problems, and I am the last person to suggest that there are no problems.
Indeed that is the reason for the existence of Government; to solve problems.
Adequate water supply, effective sewage and sewerage treatment and discharge continue to challenge us.
Our main source of raw water supply is the Ogun River and we remain dependent on the benevolence of our sister State for sharing this resource.
Apart from improving the pumping and production capacity of Iju and Adiyan Phase I Water Works by building the Akute Power Plant, we have added 15 new main Water Works of 2 Million gallons a day each, and increased the Otto-Ikosi Water Works to 4 Million gallons, while Dolphin and Lekki Water Works are now getting more reliable power to produce because of the Lagos Island and Lekki Independent Power Plants.
But we are not done. On our own, with your taxes, we have embarked on a 75 Million Gallons per day brand new Adiyan Phase II Water Works which should be completed in 2016.
As far as waste water and sewage treatment is concerned, many of the old and dysfunctional waste water and sewage treatment plants in Alausa, Abesan, Iponri, Oke-Ifa, Amuwo-Odofin built by the Jakande administration have been revived, rehabilitated and are now functional.
A lot of local capacity has been built for their sustenance and maintenance.
We have also commenced work on a flagship waste water and sewage treatment plant at Odo – Iya Alaro in Ojota that will define the future of waste water and sewage treatment in Lagos.
As for the future, I have no fear. The environment in Lagos will remain protected and sustainable.
The Eko Atlantic City Project, the new wall of Lagos on the Atlantic is already achieving its objective of protecting Lagos from flooding; even before the city is fully built.
Please make no mistake about it. Lagos has not been spared the impact of rising water levels.
We have seen waves as high as 7 meters. The wall and the project just did their jobs.
Our massive drainage interventions across the State have consigned flooding in places NTA at Ahmadu Bello Way Victoria Island, Lekki Expressway, Idi-Araba LUTH, Arigbanla in Agege, Iddo and UNILAG back gate to history.
But i know the work is not finished, and i am sure water levels will continue to rise.
Nevertheless we have left behind a plan, contained in the 2012-2025 Lagos State Developmental Plan, and with you the people behind this plan, all will be well.
Before I close, let me dimension today, perhaps, as a way of setting the agenda for the future.
A growing population needing more food and water; dwindling water supply and land being lost to desertification; farmers needing to move their cattle and livestock in search of food and water; conflicts and security breaches arising from cattle and livestock trespassing on other people’s land and sometimes damaging food crops.
More people holding and using smart phones, tweeting, texting and communicating; please note that there is a steady and persistent demand for energy to keep these phones and devices functional.
People being displaced by flooding; and many more.
This is a possible picture of the future.
But it is not a grim or hopeless one. It is sustainable.
Solar energy, wind energy, electric cars, conservation, a new economy, a major technological revolution are the flip side of that coin.
They await those who dare to reach for it.
Lagos is now prepared to venture, it is in our hands, we must not lose it, we must reach for the sky, protect, conserve and re-use in the Centre of Excellence, and all will be well.
Thank you for listening. Eko o ni baje!
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Governor of Lagos State
April 21, 2015