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The discovery of oil
in the 1950s in Nigeria is regarded as one of the best things to happen to this
country. Inversely, it is also on
e of the
worst things to happen as the Niger Delta region is plagued by environmental
degradation caused by oil spillage and gas flaring. Environmental degradation
is one of the many impediments to achieving a green economy. Others include
deforestation, poor waste management, mediocre urban planning, noise pollution,
emission of greenhouse gases and concentration of ozone-depleting chemicals.
Not only are they harmful to the planet, they spawn a variety of illnesses and
outbreaks of chronic diseases, raising worldwide concerns that the protraction
of these destructive behaviours may render humans extinct if not homeless in
the future.

Despite the
skepticism surrounding the belief in a green future in Nigeria
for verifiable reasons, this writer opines that a green future is
achievable in Nigeria, but is heavily dependent on our willingness to create
sustainable alternatives to our existing pollutive
way
of life.
We imagine a future where the environment is safe and
fit for human lives to thrive, where reusables are the new trend, where the
environment is free from pollutants and car engines are built to work with
cleaner fuels and to produce lesser vehicular emissions, where waste is
minimized, and most importantly, a future where environmental sustainability is
entrenched in the mindset of the entire populace.
Discussing green
future will be incomplete without recourse to the sustainable development
goals.

The major outcome of
the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was the agreement
by member states to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs). Some of these goals are directly and eminently
instrumental to the achievement of a green future. SDG 3 aims at ensuring
healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. SDG 3 also requires
that deaths and illnesses caused by hazardous chemicals and air, water, and
soil pollution or contamination are substantially reduced. The purpose of SDG 6
is to ensure the availability and sustainable management of clean water. SDGs 7
and 13 are related and are aimed at ensuring access to affordable, reliable,
sustainable, and modern energy for all, consequently combating climate change
and its impacts. Finally, SDGs 14 and 15 agitate for sustainable use of oceans,
seas, and marine resources and promotion of sustainable use of land, by
managing forests, combating desertification, and reversing land degradation.

Tackling a problem
which perturbs the entire planet is certainly not a piece of cake. A
combination of expertise, innovation, responsibility, cooperation and a
dramatic improvement of our living habits is required to save our planet from
utter destruction. In addition to changing our destructive culture, scientists
posit that mechanisms and structures must also be put in place (Cecelia,
2020)
.
For example, it is not enough that we stop burning fossil fuels to reduce the
emission of greenhouse gases, we also need negative emissions technologies to
help expel existing carbon dioxide (CO 2) from the atmosphere to combat global
warming.

As the push for
sustainable products and green technologies mounts, innovations spring up at an
unprecedented rate. The world’s first smog vacuum cleaner was created by Daan
Roosegaarde to clean polluted air in public spaces, using only 1170 watts of
green electricity and positive ionisation technology. Another remarkable
invention, by two surfers in the hope to clean the world’s oceans, is the
Seabin which can gather plastic and oil and filter through the structure of
oceans. Also, memorable is the creation of Vegan-bottles which has the
potential to rid the world of further production of plastic bottles (Saoirse,
2018). Lagos state, which is the most populous state and the commercial centre
for Nigeria, has launched a green consumer initiative to have a consumer label
detail the carbon footprint of a product/service and a commitment by its
producer to reduce it. It is also expected that the initiative will encourage
industries to embrace green solutions and to reduce the amount of carbon
dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of their activities (Sewanu
& James, n.d.)
. The
list goes on.

Innovation is
fundamental to the realization of a green future as Intellectual property rights
are fundamental to making innovation work. Hence, the progress and wellbeing of
humanity are now dependent on Intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights encourage creativity,
artistry, out-of-the-box thinking, and inventiveness by providing exclusivity
to owners, proprietors, and inventors, allowing them reap commercial and moral
benefits, and expelling the fear of idea expropriation (Uche & Regina,
2020)
.
Intellectual property rights like trade secrets, trademarks, copyright, and
patent are relevant to protecting green innovation. Inventions generally start
as a trade secret of the inventor. One or more types of intellectual property
rights: patents, trademarks, and copyrights are required to market an invention
(James, n.d.). These protections
mean that an invention cannot be used, distributed or sold without consent from
the inventor. Intellectual property rights are actionable in court in the event
of an infringement.

Intellectual property
rights also help disperse innovation to places of great need, through licensing
agreements, joint ventures, and more. In Nigeria, contracts or agreements for
the transfer of foreign technology to Nigeria must be registered with the
National Office for Technological Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) in
accordance with the NOTAP Act. Pursuant to Section 7 of the NOTAP Act. no
payment shall be made in Nigeria to the credit of the foreign transferring
party unless a certificate of registration and a copy of the contract certified
by the NOTAP is presented by the parties (Nta & Emmanual,
2020)
.

An also explorable
approach, to making innovation work in Nigeria, is creating a platform that
encourages and celebrates inventions, initiatives, and new ways of solving
national or world problems within Nigeria. A platform that creates avenues for
meet and greets between inventors and the public, government, or universities.

The government should
invest in home-grown technologies. When Nigeria gained independence from
colonial rule in 1960, there were bursts of ingenuity exhibited by indigenous
people in all spheres of human endeavours. These attempts were discouraged due
to derogatory remarks that these technologies were substandard or
counterfeited. Uninspiring remarks like “Aba-made”, “Okrika”, “katako-made’,
“Sharada-made” were common (Edwin, 2017). Foremost, a change
of attitude towards home-grown inventions is necessary. It is also certain to
go a long way if government can interface with innovative indigenous people,
provide necessary material, financial and structural aid to advance their
handicraft, showcase and give them credit for their creativity.

Top-notch education
is paramount to unlocking sustainable development in Nigeria. Nigeria must
invest heavily in her educational sector because quality education and
research, up-to-date educational infrastructures, and standard learning
environment are key driving factors to achieving sustainable socio-economic
development in any nation (Chuks & Acquah,
2018)
.
When we invest in education, innovation will no longer be a question.

It will be
short-sighted to propose green future in Nigeria without first proffering a
probable alternative to Petroleum. The Nigerian economy is heavily
dependent on the oil sector which accounts for over 95% of export
earnings and about 40% of government revenues, according to the International
Monetary Fund. This raises the question of whether Nigeria can survive with the
expulsion of her oil sector. Recently, the Department of Petroleum resources
proposed the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in automobiles as an
alternative to petrol (Anon., n.d.). More so, if
we take advantage of the neglected Agricultural Industry in Nigeria, it has the
potential to overthrow the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. According to Dr
Akinwunmi Adesina, president of the African development bank (AFDB) and
previous minister of agriculture for Nigeria, ‘Agriculture must be at the
centre of the economic diversification strategy and wealth creation in Africa’.

As American business
magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates once said, “Never before in history has
innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time”, it is up
to us to safeguard it. If we can protect and encourage inventions, then we can
protect our planet (Daniel, n.d.).

Written by:

Adeniran Oluwabukunmi

References

Anon., n.d. Embrace CNG as petrol alternative, DPR
advises motorists. Department of Petroleum Resources .

Cecelia,
T., 2020. Climate change: now is the time to act.. March.

Chuks,
M. & Acquah, S., 2018. Why investments in higher education and research in
Africa are so important?. 26 July.

Daniel,
R., n.d. Innovation for a Green Future: Protecting Intellectual Property to
Protect the Planet.

Edwin,
U., 2017. Indigenous Technological Innovations: Crossing the “Valley of
Death” to the Marketplace. November.

James,
Y., n.d. Four types of Intellectual property to protect your idea and how to
use them.

Nta,
E. & Emmanual, N., 2020. Innovate for a Green Future. 27 April.

Saoirse,
K., 2018. 21 Sustainability Innovations and Initiatives That Might Just Change
the World. 6 April.

Sewanu,
A.-T. & James, O., n.d. Recent Developments on Green Growth in Nigeria.

Uche,
N. & Regina, O., 2020. Innovate for a Green Future – Nigeria. April.