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2nd IFRA Nigeria "PostCOP21" conference

"Ecological Crises: Local and Global Perspectives", Tuesday 12th July 2016, Bogobiri House, Lagos

On Monday 11th July and Tuesday 12th July 2016, IFRA Nigeria organised its second “PostCOP21” event. The first day, the event, titled “Ecological Crises in Nigeria”, was held at the Institute of African Studies, within the University of Ibadan. The second day the event, titled “Ecological Crises: Local and Global Perspectives”, was an “out of the academy” one, welcomed by the Bogobiri House, in Lagos.

On Monday 11th July in the afternoon, the event “Ecological Crises in Nigeria” took place in Draper’s Hall, within the Institute of African Studies. Hosted by its director, Prof. Dele Layiwola, and presented by our IFRA fellow Dr. Philip Olayoku, it gathered numerous students, teachers and researchers from IPS, CMS, GST, African Music, CBAAC, and the departments of Psychology, Zoology, Geology and Geography. It started with a lecture by Prof. Geraud Magrin from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne and the Geography laboratory Prodig, titled “The Lake Chad Crisis: Geopolitics, Environment and Development”.

This conference sets out to explain how a myth about the disappearance of Lake Chad has gained credence against all scientific evidence. For a few years now, the lake has been emblematic of the Sahel crisis and of the effects of global warming. Yet, hydrologists share the diagnosis of the lake being presently stable at a level already encountered in the 20th century and in earlier periods: there is no justification for announcing its disappearance.

This conferences analyses the strategies of the main stakeholders involved in order to show that the drying-up theory is being made use of for two reasons: to legitimize a project of water transfer from the Congo basin, and to draw off international funding to counter the effects of global warming. It concludes by questioning the current and future development issues at the regional area” (Magrin). The lecture was based on a paper published recently by the Journal of Political Ecology (vol. 23, 2016): It was also the result of a reflexion starting with an expertise conducted by Prof. Magrin and other geographers and hydrologists from France and Chad, Niger and Cameroon, under the authority of the AFD and the World Bank, titled “The Lake Chad Development and Climate Resilience Action Plan”. The lecture was then discussed by Prof. Ayoade and Dr. Adelekan, from the Geography department of the University of Ibadan, both experts in climatology and ecological risks.

After a brief debate with the public, the lecture was followed by the screening, with the help of the Thursday Film Series movie club, of the documentary Nowhere To Run (Nigeria, 2015), produced by the Musa Yar’Adua Foundation and distributed by the Institut Français of Nigeria, telling the story of environmental threats and unique challenges to security in Nigeria from the perspective of affected communities.

The audience reacted with enthusiasm to the documentary, to acknowledge this exhaustive review of the current ecological issues in Nigeria, but also to discuss its numerous bias, like the hypothesis of the Lake Chad decrease contradicted by Prof. Magrin’s presentation.

The program ended by a refreshment in the Institute entrance, where it was also possible for the audience to visit the photo exhibition “60 solutions Against Climate Change”, proposed by the AFD (French Development Agency), distributed by the Institut Français and displayed by IFRA Nigeria.

On Tuesday 12th in the evening, the second event titled this time “Ecological Crises: Local and Global Perspectives” took place at the Bogobiri house, a cultural center based in Ikoyi, Lagos. The event started by the screening, with the help of the Institut Français, of the documentary Think Global, Act Rural (2010, France), by the French director Coline Serreau, which presents concrete and local solutions and alternatives to the industrialised agriculture and its ecological impacts all over the world. It was then followed by the lecture by Prof. Magrin about the Lake Chad crisis. The audience was composed of numerous people from various background, from AFD to Total and The French and Netherlands Embassies, including Prof. Babajide Ibitayo Alo from UniLag, expert in environmental chemistry and member of the Nigerian delegation to COP21 summit last year in Paris, who invited officially Prof. Magrin to give his lecture to the students and teachers of UniLag.

Prof. Magrin received also a lot of questions from the audience and was interviewed at the end by journalists from Tvc News Nigeria. The event was a great success and qualified as “insightful and eye opening” by some participants. It can thus be considered as the first episode of a long series of “out of the academy” events organised by IFRA Nigeria in Lagos in the months to come.

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