Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, erstwhile president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange has implored business leaders, investors and heads of government on the urgency to collectively fight for the preservation of biodiversity of the planet.
The Nigerian financial sector investor, lawyer and philanthropist made the appeal during the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly on September 30, 2020.
The summit, a high-level virtual event with the theme “Urgent Action on Biodiversity for Sustainable Development” was organized by Volkan Bozkir, Turkish diplomat and former minister of European Union Affairs to support the first United Nations Summit on Biodiversity at the level of heads of state and government.
Speaking as the sole African non-state actor at the summit, Aig-Imoukhuede made a case for sustainable business practices and public-private partnerships to support biodiversity. He stated that the loss of biodiversity is not only an environmental issue, but also a developmental, economic, health, security and moral one.
The founder of the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG) also noted that It is the moral duty of every leader in the world who enjoys the privilege of responsibility to join the fight to save the planet.
He charged governments to play a key role in enacting policies and programmes to protect and restore the Earth’s ecosystems, including establishing incentives to encourage sustainable business practices as well as sustainable investments.
He added that the fight to save our biodiversity conservation should not be left to the government alone as it requires multi-faceted global efforts and collaborations by all stakeholders, including the private sector, especially corporate leaders and executives.
Speaking on the challenges of biodiversity in Africa, Aig-Imoukhuefe stated that the second largest continent is immensely rich in biodiversity and yet by the end of this century, it could lose up to 30 percent of its entire animal and plant species as a result of excessive exploitation, unsustainable industrialization, deforestation, pollution and many harmful human activities.
He stressed on the increased urgency to demonstrate leadership and commitment to improve our relationship with nature. According to him, ‘the appearance of COVID-19 has shown that when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life. If we continue at our current rate, the loss of biodiversity will undermine progress towards achieving 80% of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
He also emphasised that the time to act is “now” as delays and inaction may prove too costly for everyone.
He concluded by pointing to the critical role the summit is playing to galvanize urgent action to protect biodiversity, build political momentum and raise ambitions for the development of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, to be adopted in 2021.
In 2012, Aig-Imoukhuede led Nigerian banks and the Central Bank in the adoption of the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles. He also made a business case for private sector activism, asserting that biodiversity provides annual benefits valued at approximately $120 trillion– more than the entire world economy. He stated that the global financing needs for achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity is less than 1% of its annual economic benefits.
A report by the United Nations shows that biodiversity is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, with growing impacts on people and the planet and Africa is no exception, Aig-Imoukhuede said.
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