The Climate Change Vulnerability Index of 2017 ranked Nigeria among the world’s top ten most climate-vulnerable nations. Adding to these concerns, Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) cautioned in 2022 that Nigeria could lose up to $460 billion by 2050 if the nation’s economy continues to rely on climate-sensitive industries.
Dr. Joe Abah, DAI’s Country Director, issued this warning during the launch of the carbon policy by the Abuja Centre for Commerce and Industry (ACCI).
He stressed that Nigeria’s heavy dependence on industries like agriculture, forestry, and oil and gas extraction makes the country susceptible to climate change, deforestation, and watershed degradation. Dr. Abah added, “Climate change inaction could cost Nigeria between 6% and 30% of its income by 2050, equivalent to a loss of US$100–460 billion.”
In December 2021, the World Bank approved a $700 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) for the Nigeria Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) Project.
This initiative aims to enhance sustainable landscape management practises in northern Nigeria and strengthen the nation’s long-term capacity for integrated climate-resilient landscape management.
Nevertheless, an expert, Dr. Kelechukwu Okezie, expressed regret that Nigeria has not exhibited sufficient commitment to building climate resilience.
Dr. Okezie is the founder of the non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation, Neighbourhood Environment Watch Foundation, based in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
The organisation focuses on climate change, natural resource governance, and agricultural practises.
Question: In simple terms, what is climate resilience?
Okezie: Climate resilience refers to the ability of an individual, community, government, or country to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to climate change. It involves adapting, preparing for eventualities, and innovating to overcome challenges. In essence, climate resilience encompasses both mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Question: Is Nigeria climate resilient according to your definition?
Okezie: In theory or principle, we could say that Nigeria is climate resilient because it has enacted numerous laws and policies addressing climate change. However, when it comes to practical action and mitigation measures, one could argue that Nigeria is not adequately prepared. We must consider the government’s actions to mitigate climate change, its preparedness for climate-related crises such as food insecurity, desert encroachment, and erosion, and its response to global warming and hazardous chemical emissions. Unfortunately, in practise, Nigeria’s climate preparedness falls short of expectations.
Question: How can Nigeria achieve climate resilience?
Okezie: Achieving climate resilience requires concrete actions and measures. Nigeria must focus on mitigation and adaptation measures, addressing issues like desert encroachment, reducing gas emissions, and reversing deforestation. Investing in renewable energy, promoting tree planting, and raising environmental awareness among citizens are crucial steps. Moreover, people must be well-informed about climate-related risks and potential actions to mitigate them. Therefore, besides policies, achieving climate resilience demands action, tree planting, gas emission reduction, deforestation reversal, and the avoidance of triggers for climate crises.
Question: Whose responsibility is it to build resilience?
Okezie: Building resilience is a collective responsibility involving the government, the private sector, civil society, and the media. The government should create policies, enforce compliance, and conduct effective monitoring while diversifying revenue sources away from oil and gas. It must also invest in climate-resilient infrastructure and clean, renewable energy. The private sector should invest in clean energy to reduce dependence on the oil and gas industry. Civil society organisations should continue their aggressive sensitization campaigns, hold the government accountable, and build a critical mass of stakeholders advocating against gas flaring, unsustainable consumption, and insufficient investment in renewable energy. The media should raise awareness and serve as a watchdog, holding the government accountable for its actions.
Question: What are the consequences of failing to build resilience against climate change?
Okezie: Failure to invest in climate resilience carries a high price. It can lead to food insecurity, abject poverty, hunger, diseases, high mortality, malnutrition, crime, and insecurity. It negatively impacts the economy, education, food, commerce, and industry. All of these depend on a healthy environment to thrive. Climate crises, including massive flooding, heatwaves, desert encroachment, and food insecurity, have severe repercussions. Nations or individuals that neglect climate resilience pay dearly for their inaction.
Question: What advice would you offer the Nigerian government and its citizens regarding climate resilience?
Okezie: We must prioritise environmental protection, seeing it as our legacy. Investment in the environment is an investment in the well-being of current and future generations. The government should display greater interest in climate change issues, invest in renewable energy, and advocate for greener energy sources. Citizens should also take responsibility, avoiding actions like deforestation without replanting. We should act responsibly and avoid compromising the future of our children. Building climate resilience requires collective effort, including budgeting, preparation, and mitigation and adaptation strategies to address climate change.
Writing by Alfred Ajayi; Editing by Saadatu Albashir and Julian Osamoto
This is an instalment of our weekly climate change series! In the series, we will explore valuable information about climate change and its far-reaching implications. Our aim is to increase awareness and foster a better understanding of this pressing global issue.