| The concept of Sustainable Development is one, which is wrought with tremendous complexities especially as it regards the issues to be considered as priorities in the process of technological advancement.
The Brundtland Commission, 1987, defined sustainable development as, “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
Sustainable development, currently a topical issue all over the world, constitutes itself as a major challenge for most developing nations. This is because, in the quest for aligning themselves with the global trend of development, finding a balance in the use of natural resources has been quite difficult.
Prior to the national policy on the environment, the Nigerian government did not have a comprehensive road map as regards to the proper management of the environment and its resources in line with the principles of Sustainable Development. However, since the policy came, concrete strategies have been created.
The goals and strategies developed by the workshop were streamlined to meet the particular needs of the Nigerian environment in key areas such as; land use and soil conservation, water resources management, toxic and hazardous substances, occupational health and safety, energy production and use, mining and exploitation of mineral resources, agricultural chemicals and pesticides, guidelines for public participation and institutional arrangement for environmental protection.
The Key National Environmental Problems facing Nigeria currently include:
A. SOIL DEGRADATION: This can be defined as the continual depletion of soil resources and soil structure to such an extent that the fertility of the soil is declined. Some of the causes include: reduction in tree cover, population pressure and inappropriate farming methods. The strategies enunciated in the national policy for combating soil degradation include: promoting optimal land use for sustained production, identifying, mapping and assessing the potentials and constraints of soil conservation principles in highway and other constructions activities, among others. The strategies are positive and realistic in terms of their move towards balancing human needs against environmental potentials.
This is because the strategies do not covertly deny the existence of human need; neither do they prevent people from trying to ensure their continued survival.
An example of this positive and realistic planning is ‘the integration of population and environmental factors in national development planning’.
It stipulates this while also ‘solving health problems associated with rapid urbanization and squalid urban environment’. However, no mention was made of the mode of enforcement of any of these goals. Also the strategy of positive legislation and incentives to prevent soil degradation were not mentioned. These are very useful strategies. In addition, the means of ‘promoting optimal land use’ is not stipulated.
B. WATER CONTAMINATION: This can occur as a result of the presence of toxic chemicals (whether natural or man made) in bodies of water. Toxicity effects can be dramatic or subtle and its detection can be difficult particularly in the case of widely used and highly persistent substances such as Mercury, Dieldrin or PCB’s.
Most of the strategies enumerated in the national policy on the environment to tackle water contamination are treated under the headings ‘Water resources management’ ‘Sanitation and waste management’ and ‘Toxic and hazardous substances’.
This categorization is ineffective because the problem deserves specific treatment. Also, little mention is made of the possible contaminants of water and how to tackle them. The term ‘efficient water usage’ as a strategy for water resources management is rather vague. It does not, like other strategies enumerated in the policy, stipulate ‘the who’ (i.e. water usage by who) and ‘the how’ (method) of the strategy.
The ‘consideration and amelioration of the adverse effects of water development on other resources’ as a strategy is very unclear as to which other resources. Does ‘consideration’ here mean an ‘Environmental Impact Assessment? It sounds rather evasive.
Other strategies however, seem reasonable.
The strategy of ‘monitoring the effects and control of all phases of the life-cycle of all substances likely to have an adverse impact on human health and environment’ is a very proactive one.
C. DEFORESTATION: This can be simply described as a reduction in forest cover. It leads to acidification of rivers and soil erosion as well as a loss of habitat for many species.
The strategy enunciated is the national policy on the environment as it regards deforestation which seems to be quite impressive.
Strategies such as increasing awareness, encouraging reforestation, protecting fauna, monitoring changes of forest cover via satellite, establishing germ plasma conservation programmes etc. are commendable.
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Aare Kornar !
A prolific Nigerian writer with a gift for words. Wrote under the pen name of Fad and Quad during the Military Era. Currently uses the "pscornerstone" signature.
An activist with religious inclination and respect for cultural heritage, he grew up streetwise and with great love for his country, Nigeria.
He believes that he who holds the word holds the world.
Sustainability...Can I help Eleanor James
| Dec 1st, 2004
Please contact me and let me know what I can do to help in your organization. Thankyou for your time and your cause. Eleanor James
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