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How Nigeria, others can meet 2030 SDG targets

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By Abraham Adekunle

Expert says Nigeria, others need to expand awareness beyond climate action.

It is only eight years away from the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs) target. A sustainability advocate, Chukwuemeka Idam, said that for Nigeria and the rest of the world to achieve the SDGs by 2030, we need to expand awareness beyond climate action to spotlight areas, such as reducing inequality, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation, and infrastructure to make headway. He added that the global community should also expand awareness around quality education and the need for cooperation, among others.

According to him, by so doing, we will create a conducive environment to achieve well-rounded and meaningful progress and meet the deadline. In a statement, Idam noted that progress on SDGs has so far been uneven and it leaves much to be desired, particularly in Africa. “Sustainability is not an uncommon word, as we sometimes use it in our day-to-day conversations. We use this word in many contexts, but when referring to collective goals that amplify the common well-being and progress of humanity, we tend to miss the importance of the true meaning of sustainability. Over the years of my advocacy, I have found that the conversations around sustainability are often limited only to climate action, leading to the exclusion or relegation of other equally important goals,” he said.

Expanding understanding of sustainability enables accelerated progress.

The advocate argued that expanding understanding of sustainability beyond narrow lenses would enable accelerated progress in the SDGs ahead of the 2030 deadline. He said, “So, what then is Sustainability? How should we approach it, and why does it even matter? Sustainability is an encompassing term that embraces economic, social, and environmental goals that are necessary to equalize opportunity, promote prosperity, and a healthy life for all. This definition is built on the United Nations Brundtland Commission’s (1987) definition of sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Idam further stated that there are currently 17 SDGs that require global co-operation to achieve by 2030. These include: No Poverty; Zero Hunger; Good Health and Well-being; Quality Education; Gender Equality; Clean Water and Sanitation; Affordable and Clean Energy; Decent Work and Economic Growth; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Reduced Inequality; Sustainable Cities and Communities; Responsible Consumption and Production; Climate Action; Life Below Water; Life on Land; Peace and Justice, Strong Institutions and Partnerships for the Goals. He said the goals, which are intended to affect everyone positively, are not the entirety of what Sustainability is, but it offers a practical and achievable framework to address pressing global issues. “Sustainability, as a way of living and organizing our daily activities, is critical to ensuring a maximum utility is derived from our scarce resources while keeping costs and damages to the barest minimum. One practical area is recycling,” he added.

The benefits of SDGs are beyond saving the environment or improved revenue.

He said that according to Canada-based recycling company, Cleanriver, companies can save up to $3,000-$4,000 per year simply recycling cardboard and paper. He pointed out that the benefits of Sustainability are, however, beyond saving the environment or improving revenue. He said reducing inequality and improving socio-economic access for people from all walks of life, especially minorities, have been demonstrated to present immense benefits to society. “The World Bank, in a recent publication, argues that deliberate efforts to unlock workplace opportunities for women would grow economic opportunities globally by around a quarter of what the global GDP current is,” he said.

“This significant growth in the world’s economy can be achieved by 2025. In the area of innovation, Sustainability offers a crucial advantage to businesses that are open to rethinking the impact of their activities, and this is not limited to climate action. Businesses that promote positive values of unity, inclusivity and zero discrimination have access to bigger market pools and tend to build an identity that encourages loyal and consistent patronage. Under the close watch of shareholders, customers and governments, global brands have begun to cut down on doing business with other organizations that exploit minors as cheap labor. Also, the bad public regard that comes with association with discriminatory or other anti-sustainability practices has proven to be an effective deterrent,” he said.

Illegal oil refining and bunkering pollutes air and water in Port Harcourt.

Idam pointed out that the incidence of illegal oil refining and bunkering in the Niger Delta region have caused severe pollution. He said, “There is also the dimension of clean water, good health, and well-being that comes with Sustainability. In one of my recent articles, I spotlighted the soot problem in Port Harcourt city, South-South of Nigeria. The unfortunate and recurring incidents of illegal oil refining and bunkering have caused severe air pollution that has contaminated water and soil in the city. The implication for health is dire, and I highlighted some of the negative impacts already being observed. Illegal oil refining and bunkering are some of the several issues that can be addressed by adopting sustainability-driven approaches across the different facets of human endeavors.”

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