Dr. Daniel Chidubem Gbujie is a Climate Reality Leader who recently attended the Climate Reality Project (CRP) training in Denver, Colorado in March 2017, facilitated by former US Vice President, Al Gore.
As one of his first Acts of Leadership on Climate Change following the Denver training, Dr. Gbujie succeeded in being invited to the United Nations High-Level Event for Action on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda that took place on 23 March 2017 in New York. Dr. Gbujie attended as a Climate Reality Leader and the representative of his organisation, the Team 54 Project, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about climate change impacts in Africa and sustainable development options through a global network of passionate persons. The high-level event was attended by with a panel of ministers from various nations, senior government official and other high-level UN representatives and stakeholders.
In his opening remark, Mr Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly, said that “equity, innovation and investment must steer the global drive to build climate-resilient societies and economies powered by clean energies for global growth”. The Secretary-General of the UN, Mr Antonio Guterres, added: “Climate change is both a massive opportunity and an unprecedented threat”. He stated that the present situation of climate change was clear and indisputable with evidence from the sea rising, 2016 being the hottest year recorded and carbon dioxide emissions topping the critical 400 parts per million levels.
“There is no longer any doubt that human activity is causing dangerous global warming”, Mr Guterres asserted. In support of the UN Secretary-General, Mrs Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), reiterated that there are potential rewards for taking actions on climate change and fully implementing the sustainable development goals.
The highpoint from the discussion was that urgent climate actions are necessary and these actions are opportunities to improve the health and well-being of human beings while stepping up the efforts to achieve the sustainable goals. This will ensure responsible use of natural resources while protecting the environment for future generations.
In the sessions that followed, the participants deliberated on climate science, efforts been taken to address implementation of the Paris Agreement, various climate-friendly initiatives and how to scale up implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and of the Paris Agreement.
Dr Gbujie’s attention was drawn by one of the panellists, African Princess Abze Dijgmam, Chief Executive Officer of Abze Solar in Burkina Faso and representative of her country’s Government to the UN on sustainable development. She shared her story of how she was powering rural communities in the country with off-grid renewable appliances, highlighting the advantages of renewable while pointing out that it was a green business. She continued her presentation by saying that implementation was the important element and all-inclusive participatory framework which must include women and youth will eventually be the game-changers in moving forward.
Dr Gbujie also noted a comment from Mr Adnan Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), who said that his agency approves soft loans to rural women in West Africa. Such loans aim at enabling women to replace the old firewood stoves, which pollute the air affecting directly the health of the rural women and their children, with renewable ones.
The event provided Dr. Gbujie with ideas of opportunities that lie ahead and of the timely approach for collaborative efforts that will help curb greenhouse gas emissions. It deepened his understanding as to why Africa has not fully achieved its potential, be it out of ignorance or lack of political will. The SDGs and the Paris agreement support a zero-carbon and zero-poverty world. According to Dr. Gbujie, Africans must quickly embrace these initiatives for a sustainable future where the continent will be protected. They will ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning, create jobs with new innovative skills, open up economic opportunities, help in building new infrastructure and in improving the quality of life among vulnerable groups like elders, physically challenged persons, children under 5 years, the girl child, and pregnant women within remote and often deprived regions on the continent.
Dr. Gbujie is adamant: Africans must put into action the philosophy behind the Climate Reality Project’s concept of ‘Acts of Leadership’, both individually and as nations.
Credit: Climate Reality Africa