In a bid to address the numerous developmental challenges facing coastal communities in the Niger Delta region and by extension the littoral states, House of Representatives flag bearer for Sagbama-Ekeremor Federal Constituency on the platform of the Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), in Bayelsa state, Pastor (Barrister) Bofede Okporu, has called for the enactment of an act of parliament, establishing a coastal areas’ management policy framework to guide the development of coastal communities in the country.
He said there was an urgent need to formulate such policies that would facilitate an integrated approach towards coastal development, in view of the ravaging effect of climate change, overfishing, growing ocean acidification and worsening coastal eutrophication that is taking toll on coastal communities, pointing out that the proposed legal framework was in line with global best practices in integrated coastal development and management.
Barrister Okporu, who stated this in an interview with The Blue Economy online magazine in Abuja recently, added that the proposed coastal areas management bill will be his first assignment at the green chambers, when elected into office, come February 2019.
He said the bill, when eventually passed into law, would regulate the development of coastal areas in accordance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 14, which emphasises the need to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
He said the development of coastal areas should be a shared responsibility, among government, the private sector, stakeholders, development partners and the general public, while emplacing the need for synergy of stakeholders work together at all levels to achieve goals.
The House Representatives hopeful further noted that “recognizing that coastal areas play an important part in the well-being of coastal populations, not only economically” but also socially and culturally, the governments of littoral states, particularly those of the Niger Delta, ought to lead the campaign on the development of an integrated coastal management policy framework to properly guide the management and holistic development of coastal communities.
According to him, “Healthy and productive coastal areas and ocean resources contribute to a prosperous economy and to the well-being of the present and future generations, reiterating that the purpose of the Coastal and Ocean Management Policy Framework is to provide a long-term vision for planning, management, and conservation of sustainable use of the coastal and ocean resources.
It will be recalled that oceans face the threats of marine and nutrient pollution, resource depletion and climate change, all of which are caused primarily by human actions.
These threats place further pressure on environmental systems, like biodiversity and natural infrastructure, while creating global socio-economic problems, including health, safety and financial risks.
In order to combat these issues and promote ocean sustainability, innovative solutions that prevent and mitigate detrimental impacts to marine environments are essential.