FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY
Being a paper delivered to mark the 2006 Earth Day Celebration organized by CECD, held at Odimayo Hall, lrele LGA Secretariat, Ode Irele, 340001, Ondo State. Nigeria on 27”’ April. 2006
RECONCILING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION WITH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FOR SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE
It is a pleasure and indeed a great privilege for me to be invited to deliver this year “Earth Day” Lecture. Permit me to quickly remind you that April 22– Earth Day — is when we officially and collectively celebrate our beautiful planet by participating in activities that are good for the environment and for us as well. It is once-a-year reminder of all that we take for granted throughout the year, in the course of our busy lives. The theme of this year lecture, “Reconciling Environmental Conservation with Economic Development for Solution to Climate Change” is quite comprehensive in that its context goes beyond the issue of climate change. To appreciate the context of this theme, it is germane to identify, define and describe the theme’s key words. ‘These key words include: environment, environmental conservation, economic development and climate change
Environment has been defined as including everything living and non-living: air, water, land, animals and plains among others. The environment also involves the ways living and non-living objects interact as well as what result from such interactions. The environment and humanity’ are inseparable; this underscores the need for conservation of the environment. The objective of environmental conservation is to preserve plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on earth by protecting the lands, water and air they need to survive. Pollution is defined as the poisoning of the air, land and water surface. On the other hand, environmental degradation means the wearing down of the environment by various processes such as the action of water, wind, erosion or ice. By conservation of the environment we therefore mean the preservation and protection of environment against pollution and degradation.
Economic growth is defined as the expansion of wealth. Economic growth is a subset of development. While development is thinking about the growth and improvement of the people’s environment and social well-being, economic growth considers only the economy of the people. Economic growth and sustainable development should therefore be seen as mutually compatible and not as independent component because if viewed this way, there might be disaster.
Perhaps an understanding of the concept of sustainable development might illuminate the above assertion. ‘The World Commission on Environment and Development (1 987) defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The central idea in this regard is that development can occur only if and when there is the recognition of the need to sustain and expand the environmental resource base. The associated corollary is that “economic growth, in and of itself, is insufficient for the purpose of development”.
Scientists have established that the world is warming. Climatic zones are shifting and glaciers are melting. Some gases are able to hold heat in the lower atmosphere, thus allowing temperature to rise. This is described as greenhouse effect. These gases, also called greenhouse gases are: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide and chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs). The burning of coal and other carbon-based fuels such as oil and natural gas produces carbon dioxide; large scale clearing of temperate and tropical forests (that help regulate earth’s temperature and weather patterns) adds additional carbon to the atmosphere.
Ozone on the other hand is the only gas in the atmosphere that prevents harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun from reaching the surface of the Earth. The ozone layer is about 15 to 20 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Some chemical substances containing chlorine and bromine, released from industrial activities move up slowly into the upper atmosphere (the stratosphere) to deplete or reduce the ozone layer. This is now a global problem. In fact, a big hole has been discovered in the protective ozone layer. In 1984, the ozone hole was larger than the United States and taller than Mount Everest. The dangerous gases, which deplete the ozone layer, are: CFCs (often used as coolants in refrigerators, air conditioners and spray cans), halons (used by fire fighters), carbon tetrachloride (a cleansing agent), methyl bromide (a fumigant), hydrochloroflurocarbons — HCFCs (a replacement of CFCs) and nitric oxide (emitted from the engines of supersonic aircraft). The earth receives more ultraviolet radiation from the sun as the ozone layer diminishes in the upper atmosphere. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light can cause damage to the genetic material DNA; it causes skin cancers and cataracts; depresses human immune system, interferes with reproduction. High levels of radiation will also lead to reduced crop yields, depletion of marine fisheries, materials damage and increased smog.
3.0 THE EVOLVING PRINCIPLES OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
From the above definitions and descriptions, one could conclude that the process of climate change is a direct product of man’s action at creating wealth and ensuring suitable habitability. However, sustainability argument emphasizes the need to view economic growth and environmental protection as mutually compatible rather than conflicting objectives. It is in realization of the fact that solutions to most environmental problems lie in the adherence to this concept that the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) calls for a reconsideration of future decision making based on a balanced attention to environment, development and society. In~ this regard, WCED (1987) contends that sustainable development is a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of resources, the direction of technological development, and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspiration. The concept is therefore a value-based concern that requires “the moral choice of accepting intergenerational equity as an overriding ethic”.
WCED (1987) therefore opines that the achievement of not only the objectives of the concept of sustainable development but ensuring plausible solutions to most environmental problems hinges on the following principles of sustainable development:
This principle refers to the need for all policy sectors, at both national and international levels, such as finance, energy, agriculture, trade, to ensure their plans; programs and budget integrate economic and environmental concern. This is referred to as external integration. The term may also refer to the need to overcome fragmentation in developmental responsibilities and permitting processes for water, air and land pollution through consideration of cross-media effects and a coordination of governmental control efforts possibly through unified agency and/or permit. This form has been called internal integration. A third meaning involves the notion of interdisciplinary integration. Environmental mangers, in deciding on the appropriate balance between environmental and development goals, must draw from such disciplines as sociology and ecology in order to understand constraints and feasibilities of control actions. A fourth meaning also emphasizes the need for international cooperation and coordination in environmental management. And, a fifth connotation focuses on the need to manage competing uses in a given area. In this regards, compatibilities and trade-offs between and among uses must be dealt with.
3.2 The Precautionary Principle
This principle hinges on the fact that it is better to prevent pollution than to depend on costly control strategies or clean-tips later; that environmental control measures should not depend on or wait for scientific certainty of cause-effect link; and that it is better to err in decision-making on the side of caution. A three-step approach to precaution according to the World Charter for Nature as adopted by UN General Assembly in 1982 includes:
a) Activities which are likely to cause irreversible damage to nature shall be avoided;
b) Activities which are likely to pose a significant risk to nature shall be preceded by an exhaustive examination; their proponents shall demonstrate that expected benefits outweigh potential damage to nature, and where potential adverse effects are not fully understood, the activities should not proceed;
e) Activities which may disturb nature shall be preceded by assessment of their consequences, and environmental impact studies of development projects shall be conducted sufficiently in advance and if they are ti be undertaken, such activities shall be planned and Carried out so as to minimize potential adverse effects.
3.3 Intergenerational Equity
The need to limit natural resource uses and control pollution in order to be fair to future generations, not leaving them resource-scarce and strapped with pollution problems and clean-up costs, has been recognized through the principle of intergenerational equity. Principle 3 of the Rio Declaration provides “the right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of the present and future generations”.
Two equitable duties are inherent in this principle, namely, the conservation of options and the conservation of quality. The duty to conserve future options, which is seen to include conservation of biological and cultural diversity, also calls for limits on the use of non-renewable resources. For example, government should not allow known reserves of a given resource to be used up when no substitutes are available. The duty to conserve environmental quality involves the general mandate of not passing along the natural resource in a “worse condition” than received.
3.4 Public Participation
It has been contended that environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. Since natural resource conflicts often involve questions of values, recreational, aesthetics and spiritual, and conflicts of interests, public involvement is essential to the increasing understanding among residents, government managers, and development proponents and conflict resolution.
For effective public participation, each individual must have access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and other activities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. The government is therefore expected to facilitate and encourage public awareness and ensures effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings including redress and remedy on environmental issues.
3.5 Polluter-Pays Principle
The focus of this principle is to encourage pollution prevention by ensuring that polluter pays for his action. Specifically, polluter is expected not only to clean-up but he is also made to pay compensation for the loss of fauna, flora, agricultural lands etc. This principle ensures that every land use shall be “on the side of caution”. Essentially, in waste management, this principle ensure that the quantity and nature of waste generated by a facility would determine the cost accruable to such facility
3.6 Environmental Impact Assessment Principle
This principle constitutes a formidable tool towards achieving the goal of sustainable development. It strives at integrating environmental considerations in development planning. it ensures that potential negative impacts are foreseen and addressed at an early stage in the planning process and set up machinery to carry out mitigation measures and monitoring.
Protection of the Atmosphere and
Apart from the adoption of the principles of sustainable development as reflected in the series of regulations, guidelines and standards, it has ever been the desire of the Federal Government of Nigeria to single out the sources of gaseous emissions and maintain them at the level of full compliance by the year 2010 using the following strategies:
a) Review of existing National guidelines and standards to include vehicles, generating sets, aircraft etc;
b) Intensification of public enlightenment campaigns at all levels on the benefits of adequate maintenance, retrofitting, adopting effective technology, ensuring efficient energy use, and increased cost benefit;
c) Maintenance of effective databases on industries and their compliance status;
d) Maintenance of a register of technologies, vehicles, generating sets, and aircraft for approval for manufacturing and importation;
e) Introduction and enforcement of emission control certificates for vehicles, generating sets, and aircraft by 1999;
f) Elimination of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) consuming processes;
g) Enforcement of laws relating to the siting of new industries;
h) Installation of a minimum primary treatment for all new industries;
i) Building secondary central treatment facilities in all major industrial estates in cities;
j) Invoking the polluter pays principle immediately;
k) Ensuring 100% waste segregation, recycling arid re-use by the year 1999;
I) Promotion of research in Best Available Technology Effective for Local Adoption (BATELA);
m) Making eco-labeling compulsory for all products by the year 2000;
n) Promotion of commercialization of sanitary land fill and incineration as appropriate;
o) Encouraging citizen empowerment in pollution control;
p) Introduction of green technologies and promotion of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) in all industrial facilities;
q) Creation of an environment fund for soft loans as economic incentives for environmentally friendly industries; and
r) Promotion of tax rebates for industries installing pollution abatement facilities.
In compliance with the requirements of the Montreal Protocol and the provision of Agenda 21, the phasing out of ODS in Nigeria has been given priority among the programmes being implemented by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA). In 1993, the Federal Government of Nigeria established a Regional Environmental Monitoring Station at Oshogbo under the auspices of the Global Atmospheric Watch (ClAW) programme of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The station monitors background atmospheric pollution. GEMS/Air Nigeria is a component of the Global Environment Monitoring System whose specific goal is to monitor and assess urban air quality, the programme commenced in 1995 with FEPA as the focal point.
Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the activities of the Nigerian government in the area of pr6tecting the atmosphere include: phasing out the consumption of ozone depleting substances (01)5); monitoring background atmospheric pollution and the total column ozone; data bank automation; a greenhouse gas inventory; climate change research and training; promotion of environmentally friendly energy practice; and participation in the Global Environment Monitoring Systems (GEMS).The unpleasant side effect of industrialization is the waste generated from industrial processes Another source of pollution is gaseous emission especially from fossil fuel burning processes and processes using gas. Since the oil and gas sector has continued to be the backbone of the Nigerian economy, contributing over 90% of the nations Foreign exchange earnings and at least 80% of the GDP. This situation is likely to continue unchallenged into the future. The pollution is a major health hazard with the levels of the gases emitted around highways and runways sometimes 10 times higher than permissible levels in Nigeria, Ghana, Europe, and many other countries. In order to reduce the levels of these gases to tolerable ambient limits, it is important to single out the sources of gaseous emissions and maintain them at the level of frill compliance within the next few years 2010.
The Federal Governments policy goal on the conservation of biodiversity is to ensure sustainable use of forest resources and preservation of the many benefits accruing from soil, water, and wildlife conservation for economic development. Among the current priority programmes in Nigeria are the extension of National Parks and Reserves and the compilation of the flora and fauna of Nigeria. The Nigerian Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) reviews the status of biodiversity conservation in Nigeria in an attempt to fill the gaps identified in the country study programme, and develops strategies and action plans to bridge the gaps in the conservation effort. It has ever been the desire of Nigeria to continue to be active in the international arena while developing at the local level infra-structural, human, and institutional capabilities that will ensure equitable sharing of biodiversity benefits over time. To achieve this goal, the Nigerian strategy is being based on:
a) Inventory, identification, and rehabilitation of all threatened and endangered species of fauna and flora;
b) Increasing the network of protected areas to include, all ecosystem types consistent with internationally accepted classification;
c) . Promotion and enhancement measures for both in-situ and ex-situ conservation through identification, inventories, evaluation, monitoring, research, education, public awareness, and training; d) increasing the nation’s biodiversity management capability (human, infrastructural, institutional, and technological);
e) Development of economically and culturally sound strategies to combat biodiversity loss;
f) Protection and promotion of policy guidance for bio-prospecting and indigenous knowledge (intellectual property right); and
g) Rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems.
The Protected Area Programme identifies areas and sites of conservation interest and classifies the identified areas using IOCW criteria. Only four states (Delta, Edo, Kogi, and Kwara) have been inventoried so far. Nigeria also implements relevant international Conventions, which address the conservation of biological resources. These conventions include Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), Convention on Wetlands (RAMSAR). and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) that are geared towards the promotion of rehabilitation of damaged ecosystems and endangered species under in- situ conservation of the ecosystems and threatened species. Apart from the implementation of the above Conventions, there are other programmes aimed at conserving biological diversity or reducing threats posed by biodiversity depletion and habitat loss. These programmes include: (i) Control of water Hyacinth and other Invasive plant species; (ii) Protected Areas! Ecosystem Management; (iii) Management of Watersheds; and (iv) Wetland Management
Resulting from the Government’s efforts in biodiversity conservation, the following achievements have been made:
a) There are 32 game reserves/sanctuaries and six National Parks in place covering a total of about 4,293,800 ha scattered in different areas of the country;
b) There are 12 strict Nature Reserves; and
c) There are 13 proposed Game Reserves/National Parks covering about 372,000 ha located across the country.
The continual depletion of plant and animal species and the degradation of ecosystem stemming primarily from economic motives have become an important issue of growing global concern. Despite the unbridled rate of increase in the exploitation of biodiversity globally, the rate of replacement has not been commensurate with use. Thus, the number of threatened and endangered species is increasing. Biodiversity as the economic and socio-cultural base of human systems, providing unquantifiable benefits to man and the environment including shelter, food, clothing, medicine, recreation, and resources for industry, needs to be conserved and managed sustainably for present and future generations. Uncontrolled logging and tree felling are the order of the day in many parts of the southern states of Nigeria. This carries with it loss of precious biological diversity. Nigeria’s wildlife is rapidly declining due to habitat loss and increased pressure from hunters, poachers, and bush burning. Animals that have recently disappeared from Nigeria include the cheetah, the pygmy hippopotamus, the giraffe, the black rhinoceros, and the giant eland. About 10-1 2 species of primates, including the white throated guenon species of primates and sclater’s guenous, are under threat. Also an estimated 484 plant species from 112 families are threatened with extinction because of habitat destruction and deforestation.
The World’s major environmental problems impacting negatively on climate change include the destruction of forests, atmospheric pollution, loss of biodiversity and toxic wastes. To care for the earth and save the planet, certain values of man need to be changed. A cursory observation reveals that most environmental problems facing the earth could be avoided if the human race could shield itself from the following:
Selfishnecs: To protect the environment, the first requirement is to put the interest of the earth before those of exploiting humans. Unfortunately, politicians are usually reticent to implement environmental policy that might cost them votes.
Greed: Human race appears to place more premiums on profits than conservation. Cases abound where powerful industries lobby to minimize pollution control or to avoid government regulations.
Ignorance: Some people harm the environment through ignorance. The case of Koko toxic waste dump is still fresh in our memory.
Shortsighted Viewpoint: Human race is yet to come to term with the potential tragedy that may befall the earth if environmental problems creep up on us insidiously unabated. Politicians and businessmen need to give consideration to long-term viability instead of short-term benefits of programme and projects to save our planet.
Self-centered Attitudes among countries: Time again, international attempts to improve the environment have failed owing to self centered national interests. This assertion is summarized in the comment of a US delegate at the Earth Summit in 1992 who said bluntly: “The American life-style is not up for negotiation”.
What do you hope for the environment? What do you hope for the future of the planet? Man has the uncanny ability to destroy his own habitat. Every other living creature will only take what it requires, whereas man, driven by greed, will take as much as he can, no matter the cost. Every attempt to safeguard the future of this planet will fail, unless this mindset can be changed. A change of attitudes towards the earth is desirable. A threat, to environment, to some extent, is a threat to national or global security. The earth must be protected and our emphasis should be on sustainable development. Let us realize that if we do not put an end to environmental pollution, pollution may put an end to man. We deserve to live a healthy world; so do our children and our children’s children.
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Nigerian Environmental Study/Action Team (1991): Nigeria’s Threatened Environment:
A National Profile. Lagos, Nigeria.
Olujimi J. A. B (2005): “Green Cities: Plan for the Planet “. A paper delivered to mark the 2005 World Environment Day (WED) Celebration. Akure, Nigeria.
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World Commission on Environment and Development (1987): Our Common Future. Oxford University Press, London