Environmental Issues in Nigeria

I was privileged to represent SIN at a film screening ‘Nowhere to run’ recently hosted by the UK- High Commissioner to Nigeria- Paul Arkwright, at his British Residence highlighting environmental challenges in Nigeria linked to the global threat of climate change. This compelling documentary won the best documentary award at the African Film Festival, amongst other local and international awards.

Linked to this, I also supported the High Commissioner at the Nigerian Environmental Society event themed ‘Sustainable Development and Stakeholders Participation in Green Economy’, writing speeches for both events. Both these events targeted key stakeholders in the Nigeria environmental sector, including the Minister for Environment, the House Committee Chair on Environment, and the Minister of State for Environment, as well as international representatives from the Netherlands and Canada. .

Reason SIN was involved

There is still some resistance to the impact of climate change, and the importance of embracing a real pathway towards a green economy in Nigeria. In addition to addressing this, the events reiterated the UK’s global leadership and the need for stakeholders to collaborate with us to help proffer sustainable solutions.

Some of the issues highlighted in the movie which Paul drew attention to include: the impact of the drying of Lake Chad on livelihoods; Migration due to desertification; Gully erosion especially in the southeast region (e.g. the infamous Nanka valley erosion) displacing persons, destroying homes, and properties. Much of Lagos, with a population of over 17.5 million, and 75% of the Niger Delta, home to over 30 million, will be under water by 2050! -Nowhere to run.

Our UK minister for Africa, Mr. Tobias Elwood overflew part of the Niger Delta recently and saw first-hand the devastating environmental damage caused by decades of oil spills and the challenges of policing the riverine areas to prevent oil theft and illegal refineries.

Environmental challenges are one of the priority areas that SIN deals with in terms of the network’s security pillar- delivering solutions to global challenges. There is obviously a link between climate change and SIN, as the global challenges presented by climate change affords us opportunities for research collaboration and of course UK Plc innovations and forward thinking on low carbon solutions as well as sustainable development. Nigeria is working to be part of that positive agenda, and the global green economy, as she tries to weaken dependence on oil and strengthen her green industry.
Paul was clear that many of the problems can be fixed and the UK government has such technical expertise and would be willing to partner with Nigeria to solve the challenges; and we want the UK to be seen as the partner of choice.

Impact

The event had a direct impact, with key stakeholders recognising the need for nations to plan for growing population amidst environmental challenges and climate change, and that as many environmental issues in Nigeria were anthropogenic most can be fixed.

The Director General of Musa Yar’Adua Foundation who produced the movie-Jacqueline Farris was told to translate the movie to local languages to reach a wider audience and be more impactful. Kaduna State Governor- El-Rufai, showed the movie at a Governor’s Forum the following day and it was resolved to put it on the agenda for a National Economic Council meeting later in the month.

Indeed as most stakeholders commented there is an urgent need to address and successfully tackle environmental challenges which beset most nations. I opine this requires innovation and research that can help to improve social and environmental safety, and attain a new global green economy. The UK and Nigeria are well-placed to do this together.

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