Stakeholders hinge economic growth on sustainable natural resources management
To curb degradation, experts have advanced the need for sustainable management of natural and environmental resources to enable Nigeria minimise economic damage and also provide an optimum boost to the economy.
They noted that such measures would enhance poverty reduction, promote food security and sanitation, infrastructure, peace, as well as combat damaging effects of climate change crisis.
These were the submissions at the end of the first international conference of the College of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State.
Themed, “Promoting Sustainable Natural and Environmental Resources Management for National Economic Recovery and Growth”, renowned environmentalist, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, who led the call observed that Nigeria has a huge assortment of natural and environmental resources that if well managed can provide sufficient food for her people, raw materials for industries that support livelihoods and service delivery, as well as maintain the quality of ecosystem services sustainably.
The keynote speaker emphasised that evolution and development of strong ‘political will’ and sound governance ethos regarding living natural resources conservation among the political class, strengthening and enforcing of environmental laws and regulations, improving annual budgetary allocations to natural and environmental resources management by the Federal and State governments to enhance recovery of the economy would avert the impending environmental crises.
Aminu-Kano who is the current Director-General of Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), stressed that management of natural resources in all their ramifications through prevention of poaching and other forms of illegal, unregulated and excessive exploitation of natural resources was necessary as the abuse of natural resources over time can have adverse consequences on the economy and human health.
“Soil erosion, flooding, desertification and climate change are affecting many regions in Nigeria, and are contributing to worsening poverty and insecurity in the country. If unchecked, they may prevent the country from achieving the desirable goals of economic recovery and growth.”
According to participants at the conference, the forum came at an auspicious time when over-exploitation, degradation and globalization have generated uncertainties in the capacity of our common earth to continue to guarantee the availability and good quality of natural and environmental resources. They posited that it provided the needed platform for participants to distil ideas and chart a sustainable pathway for managing natural and environmental resources for equitable national economic growth today and in the future.
In a communiqué at the end of the forum, participants urged the Federal Ministry of Environment and MDA’s to explore the plethora of opportunities provided by bio-technology to effectively address issues pertaining to the monitoring, assessment, and treatment of contaminated water, air, and solid waste dumps.
The Chairman, Local Organising Committee, Prof. Anthony Nlewadim, its Secretary Dr. Chioma Nwakanma and Dean, College of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Prof Emmanuel Nzegbule stressed that environmental management currently utilises different biotechnological approaches which are applied in restructuring, restoring and remediating disturbed environments. These they noted include bioremediation such as aboveground reactors, land farming, composting, bio-surfactants, biosensors, meta-genomics, and bio-sparging. However, the experts stated that Nigeria is yet to tap significantly into the opportunities
“Environmental and social safeguards are contained in IFIs policies required by national regulatory frameworks as well as by multilateral and bilateral donors for development initiatives but the capacity for its delivery is still in its infancy and requires harmonization and integration into Nigeria’s policy and frameworks. There are many local institutions, policies/agenda and indigenous knowledge relevant to natural and environmental resources management.
If properly harnessed and combined with tested international frameworks, these are capable of changing the fortunes of the nation through wise use of resources”.
Specifically, they want the Federal Ministry of Environment to show leadership through coordination and commitment to the integration of social and environmental safeguards in planning and implementation of projects to protect the nation’s natural and environmental resources while optimising good return on investments.
“ Nigerian Citizens in public and private sector should adopt duty-based approach such that everyone-governments at all levels, the community leaders and individual members of the communities see themselves as having the responsibility and duty of protecting the natural resources and environment with companies, communities and households enacting rules to guide members in their interactions with the environment. Scientists in our higher institutions of learning and research should evaluate our rich and diverse traditional/indigenous knowledge for incorporation into natural resources management decisions and actions, to help meet the broader objectives of society in environmental conservation, developing sustainable agriculture and ensuring food security, as well as the maintenance of our traditional practices and lifestyles.”
“Nigeria should fully take steps to promote biodiversity conservation and explore the enormous positive opportunities available in biodiversity for health, tourism development, ecosystem stability and national stability. Biodiversity and ecosystem management has the capacity to provide enormous export materials in the area of medicine.”
Earlier, the State Governor, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu pledged to fund the establishment of the botanical and zoological garden at the University to further promote learning about the environment and species of plants and animals.