Environmental Sustainability; Conquering Ignorance and the Way Forward
Over the last few decades, there has been significant growth from the number of concerned stakeholders regarding issues on environmental sustainability and the preservation of the environment. The neglect of the environment over the years by humans has indeed come to haunt us as a race. It would have been a different case if the majority was fighting the war for the planet’s survival but the reverse is the case as only very few people are ringing the bell of humanity into people’s ears. The survival of the planet is supposed to be a fight by all, but unfortunately only a very few are championing the struggle.
Development is good but sustainable development is better. Nigeria’s population is currently over 190 million according to Worldometers. The level of literacy ranges between 14.6% and 62.8% for female while that of male ranges between 40.9% and 81.3% and this ranges from state to state. We, therefore, can say we need to do more in terms of education – especially channeled towards issues on environmental sustainability.
One thing we need to do and most especially imbibe in our school curriculum and ensure that we teach issues bordering on environmental sustainability such as recycling, pollution, waste management, to children from primary school level to the teenagers in secondary schools and the youths in the universities. This way, we do the following things; ensure a large percentage of the coming generation is fully aware of the issues affecting the environment, ensure the message of environmental awareness is preached to the ones who are not in school, ensure children also encourage their parents to protect the environment.
The ripple effect this would bring is unimaginable because it passes a message across all and sundry that the job of environmental cleanliness is everybody’s responsibility. Parents begin to ingrain this attitude into their children, as same is done in school. Indiscriminate dumping of refuse would become a thing of the past. Citizens would begin to correct fellow defaulters on the long run.
Another way we can tackle the issue of protecting the environment is the Federal Government coming up with a framework for all 36 states including the FCT to measure how environmentally friendly and clean the each state is. Measuring indices should focus more on the areas of the state that are known to be the dirtiest. At the end of each quarter, there should be a rundown from top to bottom on the scale of cleanliness. This would cause a ripple effect on all fronts. The state governments and state ministries of environment will channel their energies in ensuring a cleaner environment. The issue of awareness will be embraced by all citizens including market women and taxi drivers.
It would also be important to note that this would create job opportunities for youths if all state governments decide to set up recycling and factories or better still encourage SMEs with funding to set up these factories. It would become glaring to both internal and external investors who wish to invest in the state that such state is forward-thinking. A state with regard for the environment sends a message that investments have a fertile ground to blossom. With the possibility of generating 90,000MT of wastes daily, going by 0.5kg of waste/person, this could be a massive investment opportunity.
Some months back, a team of concerned environmentalists who rallied and made a call to the Rivers state government in Port Harcourt, the state capital, on the issue of the Black Soot pollution in the state. The carbon emission at the time had become so intense that calls were made to the citizens to start protecting their lungs with the use of nose masks. The state government had to set up a task force to clamp down on industries that were responsible for the pollution. Other factors such as the burning of tyres, continuous use of coal for cooking, industrial gas flaring etc. also contributed to the carbon emission. As things stand, the soot emission is still a thorn in our flesh as the environment still suffers.
Nigeria is 2nd in Africa and 7th globally in terms of gas flaring. The consequences of these actions cannot be overemphasized – release of carbon, acid rain and depleting of soil nutrients, remain major aftermaths of gas flaring. Our ranking is still a cause for concern going by the vision to meet the 2030 SDG goals. The government still has a very important role to play and this will require the switch away from coal to renewable sources of energy.
In the end, we would be saving our environment – land, ocean and air from pollution. We would invariably be creating employment opportunities for youths as well and we can finally be confident of leaving a sustainable environment for the coming generation.