Earth Day 2015 represents an opportunity to convene and facilitate conversations about sustainability in Lagos, Nigeria. With this year’s theme “It’s our turn to lead,” Resource Innovation and Solutions Network Nigeria (RISNN) calls for strong leaders that will strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to its most daunting economic, social and environmental challenges.
Predictions suggest that Nigeria, which is larger than the state of Texas, will have a population of over 400 million people by 2050. With infrastructural gaps, rapid population growth and urbanization, resources and public services in Nigeria will become even more stressed. There is a need for innovative solutions to conquer Nigeria’s most pressing environmental issues.
For example, Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, is one of the fastest growing megacities in the world with a budding economic outlook. However, a comprehensive and waste management system is lacking. With its 20 million inhabitants Lagos generates about 12,000 tons of waste per day. According to Ola Oresanya, managing director of the local waste authority in Lagos State, “the increase in waste generation combined with complex/emerging waste streams arising from growing industrialization, as well as changing consumption patterns…pose inherent implications for climate change among other environmental issues.”
Adopting a collaborative approach in order to deliver sustainable solutions for growing waste and other resource challenges in Nigeria is necessary to defend the environment and public health. RISNN believes this requires the establishment of institutions that will foster active participation and education for young Africans. If Africa is to achieve sustainability, the most critical tool will be to equip its youth with relevant 21st century education to develop solutions. Educating citizens on health and environmental issues will make them strong leaders, with the knowledge to make decisions that will benefit both the planet and the people.
Dr. Olufemi Olarewaju, Guest Blogger