Entering a new year is like starting the journey of life on a new page.

It is an opportunity to make a fresh start and set a new trajectory in terms of habits, practices, beliefs, relationships, attitudes, and such other inherent determinants of human activities.

It is in realisation of this opportunity to start again that humans make new year resolutions generally to improve self-efficacy and be a better person.

Human activity is the greatest threat to human survival and the sustenance of life on planet earth.

The effect of human activity on the environment is the greatest driver of the three planetary crises of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss.

It therefore makes good sense that changing the determinants of human activity should be the core focus of addressing these greatest crises of the 21st century.

Against this background, making personalised purposeful intentions that can be translated into positive climate actions in the form of green resolutions should become a compulsory, civic obligation of all human beings: young and old.

According to Barack Obama, the former charismatic president of the United States of America, “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it”

It is therefore incumbent on everybody to come on board, change the way we currently interface and explore nature if we are to have a planet to live in and leave it behind for generations unborn.

The beginning of 2024 provides us another opportunity as a people to deepen our personal commitment to build resilience, adapt, and mitigate against the effects of climate change.

Conscious efforts at the individual levels are highly needed if all the talks, razzmatazz, financial inputs, and decisions at climate conferences like COP28 are to achieve any tangible results.

At the last conference of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, I was privileged to lead Nigeria’s campaign for nature based solutions to address the challenges of climate change, including the Ministerial Alliance for Nature Finance, the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions and Mangrove Alliance for Climate.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was on ground at the conference to provide the necessary leadership and stamp his authority as a devoted climate action advocate and nature based solution promoter.

The unabated extreme weather conditions, disasters and natural loss in terms of storms, flooding, drought, desertification, species loss and pollution are clear evidence that more needs to be done by humanity for the protection and preservation of planet earth.

I am persuaded that conferences like COP28 and policies of the government can only serve as enablers and catalysts. Our personal commitment and actions need tangible inputs to amplify and scale up. With over 200 million Nigerians taking climate actions, Nigeria will stand tall as the foremost country fighting the menace of the three planetary crises currently confronting humanity.

I have therefore come up with 10 new year resolutions, which, if followed religiously, is a panacea for sustainability and living in harmony with nature.

I will personally plant and nurture at least 50 trees in 2024 and encourage my immediate family to do same: Trees are our greatest weapon against greenhouse gases like CO2 that are driving climate change.

They are like the lungs of our ecosystem breathing in carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen that most animals need to survive.

Trees help combat erosion, purify the air, enhance biodiversity, provide food, sustain livelihoods, and contribute to public health.

In my office and home, I will generate less pet waste by using water dispensers and water bottles: Single use plastics like PET bottles are probably the most negatively impactful human consumption packaging material. Their production releases a high volume of greenhouse gases, which causes climate change.

Being non biodegradable, they persist in the environment for centuries, harming the ecosystem, poisoning animals, and degrading human health.

In my home, I will only use renewable energy as my alternative to the public energy supply.

The current dominant practice of generating electricity and heat by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, or gas releases a lot of greenhouse gases, which causes global warming and climate change.

Renewable alternatives from solar, wind, water, and other sources are our solution to significantly cutting down greenhouse gases from electricity generation.

I will be less disruptive to nature in any personal construction I undertake: When we disobey the laws of nature, sooner or later, we will face the adverse consequences.

Respecting wetlands, waterways, preserving vegetation as much as possible, reducing the practice of paving, properly channelling drains, and such measures are critical to preventing climate adversities like flooding and erosion.

I will consciously reduce air travels for me and my family and each time we travel international, we will plant a tree to give back to nature: aircraft emissions are released high in the atmosphere where they stay for centuries and causes global warming.

Exploring virtual meetings and virtual participation at conferences as an alternative to physical presence is recommended.

My family and I will utilise more reusable bags in our shopping to generate less waste and lessen our impact on the environment.

I will set aside at least one day per week to stay off animal and animal products in my meal: Animal husbandry contributes heavily to greenhouse gas emissions, including nitrous oxide and methane. It also often causes water pollution and the destruction of forests that help to regulate the planet’s atmosphere. When we reduce our consumption of animal and animal products, we indirectly reduce the impact of animal rearing on the environment.

I will consciously look out to patronise green stores and recycled items, thus increasing reuse, upscaling recycling, reducing waste and promoting circularity.

I will consciously set out to minimise wastage of natural resources like water, strive to protect animals and plants, and encourage my family to do same.

The earth does not belong to man alone but all creation, both animate and inanimate. We need each other, and man, being at the pinnacle of the creation must ensure the sustainable planet earth for all in a liveable state.

In 2024, my personal automobiles will become CNG-powered to lessen the greenhouse gas emission from them.

I know some of these resolutions may look elitist, requiring a lot of capital layout to implement.

This may be challenging, particularly in this time of global economic downturn. However, a number of them only require a change in our attitude and habits to generate little drops of climate action, which adds up to create huge benefits in the long run.

I invite all Nigerians to join in this challenge by writing down their green resolutions for 2024, making such resolutions public, and taking concrete steps to abide by them.

The war against climate change can only be won if we all come on board and become personally involved.

I wish every Nigerian a happy, prosperous, and greener 2024.

*Dr Salako is the Minister of State for Environment