Paving the Way to a Green Economy in Nigeria By Victor I. Fagorite and Ifeoma Malo

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A green economy is an economy that aims to reduce environmental risks and ecological scarcities and to promote sustainable development without degrading the environment. It is closely related to ecological economics but has a more politically applied focus. – Wikipedia

The green economy is based on the principles of sustainability, which means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
A green economy can help to address some of the most pressing challenges facing the planet today, such as climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. It can also create jobs and economic opportunities while improving public health and well-being.
Critical elements of a green economy are renewable energy, such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, and biomass; energy efficiency; and green infrastructure, such as green roofs, rainwater harvesting systems, and permeable pavements. Others are sustainable consumption and production to minimise environmental impact and ecosystem services, which are the benefits of nature, such as clean air, water, and food production.
At its core, the green economy concept represents a transformative approach to economic development, placing sustainability, environmental preservation, and social justice at the forefront.

A Green Recovery
Nigeria has made commendable strides towards a greener future, which is evident in various initiatives across different sectors. They include:
Diversification through Renewable Energy: The country has actively pursued diversification of its energy mix through investments in renewable energy, particularly solar and wind power. The Renewable Energy Master Plan and the Rural Electrification Agency’s Mini-Grid Programme aim to expand access to clean and sustainable energy nationwide.
Notably, the $620 million solar home systems scheme seeks to provide electricity to approximately 25 million Nigerians while generating 250,000 jobs in the solar industry. The REA is pivotal in the nation’s energy sector and is crucial for enhancing energy access among underserved populations.

Some of their remarkable projects in the past four years include:
• Powering Nigeria, One Community at a Time Through the National Electrification Project (NEP) – Performance-Based Grant Programme (PBG)
• Improving Energy Access in Households through the NEP – Standalone Solar Home Systems (SHS) Component
• Delivering Impact through the Rural Electrification Fund (REF)
• Powering Health, COVID-19 and Beyond
• Improving Energy Access in Universities through the Energising Education Programme (EEP)

Afforestation and Reforestation Efforts: Recognising forests’ crucial role in mitigating climate change and preserving biodiversity, Nigeria has launched afforestation and reforestation programmes to combat deforestation and encourage sustainable land management. Initiatives like the Great Green Wall seek to rehabilitate degraded lands and combat desertification, particularly in the country’s northern regions.
Promoting Sustainable Agriculture: Nigeria has actively promoted sustainable agricultural practices to bolster food security, conserve natural resources, and enhance livelihoods. Programmes such as the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) focus on boosting agricultural productivity by providing inputs and training to farmers. Additionally, efforts in agroecology advocate for organic farming practices and biodiversity conservation, further aligning agricultural activities with sustainability goals.

Support for Small Businesses and Fuel Subsidy Reforms: The National MSME Survival Fund, particularly for women entrepreneurs, promotes economic resilience and advances gender equality. Bold reforms such as cancelling fuel subsidies demonstrate Nigeria’s commitment to reducing dependency on fossil fuels, which is estimated to save approximately $2 billion annually.

Circular Economy Initiatives and Waste Management: Nigeria has implemented robust waste management initiatives to curb pollution and promote recycling and waste-to-energy solutions. The Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) spearheads waste collection and disposal efforts in Lagos State, complemented by community-based organisations raising awareness about waste management and environmental cleanliness. Innovative programs like Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF) for cement kilns and waste-to-energy solutions contribute significantly to sustainability efforts.

Policy Frameworks and Regulations: Nigeria has developed comprehensive policy frameworks and regulations to advance environmental conservation and sustainable development. The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) ensures adherence to environmental laws. At the same time, the National Climate Change Policy and Response Strategy serves as a roadmap for addressing climate challenges.

Challenges Ahead
Two challenges stand out among persistent hurdles in Nigeria’s developmental journey. They are corruption and environmental degradation.
Corruption, especially in the oil sector, poses a substantial barrier. An example is the failure of Nigeria’s N400 million green bond-financed afforestation projects, mainly attributed to inadequate implementation, possibly stemming from corruption within the implementing body.

Environmental degradation stems from harmful activities such as deforestation, pollution, and overexploitation of natural resources. Furthermore, climate change looms large, bringing more frequent and intense weather events that can wreak havoc on communities and infrastructure.
Transitioning to a green economy presents a promising path forward for Nigeria, offering solutions to address these pressing challenges while unlocking new opportunities for economic growth and job creation.

The Call to Action
As Nigeria charts its course towards a green economy, we must diversify, invest in renewable energy, promote sustainable agriculture, and foster green industries. Nigeria must invest in education and policy reforms to raise awareness about sustainable practices and empower citizens to participate actively. We must build the capacity of government agencies, businesses, and civil society organisations to implement green policies and practices. That capacity includes strengthening environmental regulations and enforcement mechanisms to ensure economic activities are conducted sustainably. This includes preventing pollution, conserving natural habitats, and promoting sustainable land use planning. Then, we should engage with international partners, learn from best practices, and foster innovation.

A brighter and greener future
Realising Nigeria’s vision of a green economy necessitates a concerted effort involving collaboration and coordination among government, businesses, and civil society.
By investing in sustainable practices and technologies, Nigeria can chart a course towards a brighter, greener future that benefits both current and future generations.
While the journey towards a green economy may be challenging, it is a path that Nigeria must tread to secure a sustainable and equitable future.

Fagorite, PhD, is a Senior Manager of Research at Clean Technology Hub Nigeria.
Malo is an organisational management expert and the Co-Founder/CEO of Clean Technology Hub Nigeria.

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