Working together to seek regional solutions to regional problems
Abuja – April 14, 2022 – The curtains of the First Annual International Forum on the development of Lake Chad were closed yesterday in Abuja,the capital city of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Over two days, around 300 high-level local and international actors and decision-makers from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), the World Bank, governors and other stakeholders met to discuss progress, harmonize strategies, and find new solutions to the multidimensional, complex crises of the Lake Chad Basin.
LCBC and the Governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria, thanks to the Lake Chad Recovery and Development Project (PROLAC) and the Multi-Sectoral Crisis Recovery Project for North-Eastern Nigeria (MCRP), jointly organized this hybrid forum. It brought together development practitioners to dialogue on development strategy and operational solutions to address the challenges of climate change and conflict, support economic recovery, repair the social contract, and address the needs of women, youth and the most vulnerable in the Lake Chad region.
The theme of this inaugural session was: “Lake Chad Basin: Climate Change, Security, Resilience and development Recovery”. For two days, experts and representatives of governments, local governments, academia, international organizations, civil society, and people working on the ground with affected populations worked hard to find common solutions to the nagging issue of Lake Chad development. From questions related to the impacts of Climate Change in the Lake Chad region and the best resilience and adaptation measures to the peace and security challenges, local governance and social cohesion, the Forum initiated a constructive dialogue on insights and ideas for solutions to tackle these pressing issues.
In his opening remarks, the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Special Guest of honour, highlighted the necessity to intensify partnerships and collaboration, which are indeed very crucial for the success of any enterprise, as no single country or organization is big enough to tackle the multidimensional challenges of the Lake Chad Region alone. The crisis in the Lake Chad Region demands a shift toward more integrated humanitarian-development planning that addresses immediate needs and the root causes of persistent challenges. “Collaboration, cooperation, and synergy between our countries and stakeholders across the region and the Sahel are the key actions that will determine the speed and effectiveness of the delivery of economic stability, peace and containing the humanitarian crisis”, Prof Osinbajo said.
“All of our successes in our fight against terrorism exemplify what we can achieve by working together. We, therefore, must continue to build on this spirit of cooperation in other areas of intervention and forge even stronger ties for sharing information and lessons from our different experiences.”
Regional cooperation and coordination are indeed the keys. And it was no coincidence that all the speakers at this opening ceremony mounted these horses, intoning the need for cooperation and regional integration as a leitmotiv. For the LCBC Executive Secretary, it is time for regional solutions to regional problems. “Knowing too well that no country can overcome its burden alone, we need to demonstrate our collective will and stand together in solidarity and complementarity. We need to strengthen our cooperation and redouble our efforts to address issues of climate change, insecurity, inequality, gender, governance, poverty, and youth unemployment, among others, so that we can work on the building blocks for a common future prosperity”, Ambassador Mamman Nuhu said.
The Forum did not only allow reporting on the progress of PROLAC. It discussed existing national and regional initiatives and harmonization of these strategies, new initiatives, and possible closer cooperation to strengthen the impact of stabilization. It also included a discussion on how to increase climate resilience in the Lake Chad Region. Moreover, it was also an informal platform for high-level exchanges among the LCBC Member States and between the Member States and Technical And Financial Partners (TFPs). The Forum will encourage new forms of collaboration and cooperation and use collective intelligence. Together, governments, international organizations, academia, businesses, and civil society must meet these challenges in innovative ways – “common ground to common problems” is the way forward.
The Annual International Forum on the development of Lake Chad, which holds once a year, ended with the release of a final statement titled “Abuja Declaration”. Next year’s Forum is planned in Niamey, Republic of Niger, in 2023. The content of next year’s Forum will be released further.