A campaign aimed at leveraging experiences, knowledge and resources amongst research institutions to bridge the gap between science, technology and policy to tackle climate change has been adopted by the Nigerian central government.
The initiative has lead to the creation of the Science and Technology Research Committee on Climate Change (STRCCC), a body of researchers that will act as a forum for dialogue and brainstorming within the scientific and technological community. The committee’s duty is to devise concise, practical and implementable recommendations that will unearth climate change challenges and opportunities for economic development in the country.
The campaign – and ultimately the committee – is coming courtesy of the Department of Climate Change (DCC) in the Federal Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on the heels of a two-day forum held recently in Lagos under the auspices of the Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP).
Implemented by the UNDP, the AAP aims at promoting an integrated approach to adaptation to climate change through building the governance system, empower children and women as change agents, and demonstrate adaptation benefits in the agricultural sector.
The DCC Acting Director, Samuel Adejuwon, said that the adequate response to climate change challenges needs to be aligned with science and technology towards national and regional strategies for development, poverty alleviation, economic growth and the enhancement of human well being, while increasing resilience to the physical impacts of climate change.
He said: “Climate change is indeed a serious threat to poverty eradication and sustainable development in Nigeria. This is because the country has a large rural population directly depending on climate-sensitive economic and development sectors (agriculture and fisheries) and natural resources (such as water, biodiversity, grassland) for their subsistence and livelihoods. In addition, the adaptive capacity of the rural majority to climate change impacts is very low. Unfortunately, most current development strategies in the country tend to overlook climate change risks. The costs of not addressing climate change or to adapt to it are very uncertain, but their welfare consequences are expected to be enormous.”
Adejuwon, who doubles as the APP National Coordinator, stated that the responsibility for action on climate change-related problems does not fall solely on government.
“Government has commenced actions in taking legislative or regulatory measures, prepare economic policies or incentives or dissuasive measures for economic operators. However, every sector of the society has important roles to play, including science and technology, private enterprises, producers, and consumers who are encouraged to also stand out in the battle against greenhouse gases effects through insisting on sustainable and environmentally friendly product choices and production techniques,” he stressed.
Adejuwon, who was represented by Peter Tarfa, who is also of the DCC, lamented that the status of Nigeria as an economy largely driven by crude oil export makes the country highly vulnerable to climate change and economic instability should major importers commercialise their investments in alternative energy sources.
“Nigeria could lose much future revenue unless efforts are made to diversify the economy through investing in enhanced human capacity building and developing technologies whose products can form the basis of future trade with other countries on carbon credit.”
However, participants at the gathering recommended that research, planning and implementation process should ensure that requisite expertise, adequate funding, capacity building and adequate infrastructure are in place. They urged government to also ensure there is a research-industry linkage through proper institutional and policy framework.
Additionally, they urged government to ensure that researchers embark on demand-driven research for development through a policy framework, even as the authorities should operationalise the recently inaugurated National Research and Development Coordinating Council (NRDCC) as a platform for sustainable research.
They further called on government to put in place incentives and a conducive environment to encourage synergy and networking among researchers on one hand and between research and industry on the other.