The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has called for the establishment of a trans boundary biosphere reserve in the Lake Chad region to promote peace among countries in that region comprising Nigeria, Cameroun, Niger, Central African Republic and Chad. The call was made by Ms. Flavia Schlegel, the Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences at UNESCO, during the Fifth General Assembly of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Network in Africa, which held recently in Ibadan.
Ms. Schlegel said that national, regional and global efforts to preserve Lake Chad Basin are important because it is a “critical ecosystem which should provide livelihood to over 30 million people and is facing environmental, social and economic and security issues through land and water degradation, over use, pollution, climate change, leading to loss of job opportunities and livelihoods.” She disclosed that in May 2017, the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the benefitting countries: Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Chad entrusted UNESCO with the implementation of a component of the Programme to Rehabilitate and Strengthen the Resilience of Lake Chad Basin Systems (PRESIBALT). The programme under UNESCO is called BIOPALT for ‘Biosphere and Patrimony Lake Chad. The UNESCO official added that “BIOPALT has a bold vision and a challenging objective,” and urged “participating countries to join minds, hearts and hands to create a transboundary biosphere and world heritage site” that will “serve as a model to promote reconciliation and resilience, and ultimately peace.” She said that this can be achieved through the joint governance and management of the region’s natural resources by sharing responsibilities and benefits. Ms. Schlegel stressed that the establishing and running the biosphere reserve as a force for peace in the region will require “a transformational approach to cooperation from all parties involved.” She pledged that UNESCO will spare no effort in facilitating such a transnational accord.