On 17 August, Nigeria hosted its 10th National Council on Environment (NCE) with the participation of over 600 senior government delegates and development partners, including UNDP Country Office and UN-REDD Programme team. The Council meeting acknowledged the importance of REDD+ as a vehicle and innovative approach for addressing the challenges of deforestation and forest degradation in Nigeria. The week long meeting was held under the theme Environment and Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria – Empowering people, Taking Climate Action and Protecting the Environment. The Nigeria Council on Environment is a decision making body on Environment in Nigeria.

The NCE was hosted by the Honorable Minister for Environment, Her Excellency Amina Mohammed, and the Governor of Nassarawa State, His Excellency Umaru Tanko Al-Makura. In her opening address, Minister Mohammed underscored efforts by the government to curb deforestation, as Nigeria is loosing 1.5 million tress a day as a result of illegal logging, increase in fuel wood use and other drivers of deforestation. These efforts have included finding alternatives to fuelwood use and suspending semi-processed wood. In his Keynote address, the Governor of Nassarawa State specifically acknowledged REDD+ as instrumental and catalytic in addressing the deforestation and forest degradation challenge.

In addition, UNDP Deputy Country Director for Programmes, Ms. Mandisa Mashologu, re-iterated the UN’s continuous support to Nigeria’s efforts in developing national and state-level REDD+ Strategies that lay the groundwork for how the country will address REDD+ in an innovative and transformational manner as part of its green development pathways.

Speaking at the Council meeting, the Director of Forestry for the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr. Phillip Bankole, underscored the strategic importance of REDD+ in Nigeria and highlighted the progress that Nigeria has made towards developing elements of the Warsaw Framework, including a National Framework Strategy on REDD+ and a REDD+ Strategy for Cross River State, and a National Forest Monitoring System. He argued that “the presentation and discussion on REDD+ is part of continuous efforts to galvanize the needed support in mainstreaming REDD+ into key national policy and development processes, and as well seek support for Nigeria to transition from REDD+ readiness to implementation.”

Earlier in the week, the UN-REDD Programme mission met with the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Dr. Bukar Hassan, to discuss strategic areas of co-operation on Nigeria’s readiness programme, including the development of a National Framework Strategy on REDD+ and a REDD+ Strategy for Cross River State. Other topics included the transitional plan for Nigeria to support the transition from readiness to implementation, development of capacity building initiatives to support REDD+ implementation - including through south-south exchanges, and the coordination of efforts among key partners supporting REDD+.

The mission was in Nigeria to support the validation meeting for Analytic Studies Reports towards REDD+ Strategy development. It is expected that Nigeria will develop a framework for National REDD+ Strategy as well as a REDD+ Strategy at the Cross River State level through participatory processes by the end of 2016. The Strategy will comprise policy reforms, investment priorities, and a related REDD+ implementation framework, with due monitoring and safeguard systems, as called for under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Consequently, several analyses have been designed to feed into the formulation of Issues and Options paper and an eventual REDD+ strategy and future REDD+ implementation.