By Kazeem Ugbodaga
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Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode on Saturday said the goal of the state government was to encourage sustainable tourism by taking full account of the current and future economic, social and environmental impacts to drive economic growth.
Ambode spoke during the 2017 Walk for Nature held in conjunction with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) at the State House, Marina, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Saturday.
The governor stated that sustainable tourism must address the needs of visitors, the industry and host communities because Lagos State had great advantage in nature-based tourism and ecotourism activities.
“The primary aim of our administration with regard to tourism is to create an enabling environment for the growth of the sector and maximize the benefits of tourism for the development of our State by influencing patterns of visitor flows and behavior,” said Ambode, who was represented by the Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Samuel Adejare.
The governor said it was his administration’s fervent belief that tourism had the potential to aid the socio-economic transformation of the state, stressing that tourism was often viewed as the holy grail of bio-diversity and tropical forest conservation.
Ambode added that there was need to conserve nature’s resources for the benefit of mankind, saying that “the Lagos State Government has not only demonstrated understanding of the important role of the environment to human survival but has gone a step further to raise its voice for the conservation of nature’s resources.”
He called for a shift in attitude towards the environment, saying that: “the growing world population, the mounting pressure on nature’s resources and the dwindling wildlife, flora and fauna as well as the implications for our subsistence, have made a shift in attitude towards the environment a necessity.
“The rich ecosystems in Lagos State, which are home to a variety of aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals, are under serious threat of extinction from a range of causes, chief of which is the rapid urbanization that has occurred in the State over the past five decades.
He said people did not have to destroy what was irreplaceable to develop or survive, adding that there was an urgent need to improve on the environment and that people should start taking responsibility for behaviour and the attendant environmental impacts.
“Global climatic events such as flooding, hurricane and landslide have dawned it on us that any development that is not mindful of the environment and its natural heritage is definitely not sustainable”, he said.
On the theme of the walk, which is “Cleaner Lagos: Unlocking Nature’s Tourism Potential,” the governor emphasized that the Cleaner Lagos Initiative, CLI, which encapsulated the ongoing broad reforms in the solid waste management sector, and the newly passed environmental laws, were both geared towards the preservation of the environment in Lagos State in a holistic and sustainable manner as well as the attainment of a cleaner, healthier and more livable State that would transform into a tourists haven.
Earlier, Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Adejare, speaking through the Special Adviser to the Governor on the Environment, Mr. Babatunde Hunpe, in his welcome address, stated that the event provided another unique opportunity to celebrate the environment and draw people’s attention towards developing and responding efficiently to environmental challenges posed by nature.
He maintained that the major gospel of the day was walking, which was an effective means the government had consistently promoted towards combating health and environmental challenges.
He urged Lagosians to form the habit of walking as such action would improved their health, saying that “by this exercise and our continued advocacy programmes, we have seen the emergence of more street joggers and more bicycle riders, who have demonstrated their commitment towards a healthier and fitter citizenry. There is no better proof that our concern for the environment is a worthy one and that our efforts are bearing fruits.”