High-level policy engagements, capacity building for researchers, remarkable progress in policy-relevant research projects, and building a reliable partnership with the media were some of the activities that made 2021 eventful for EfD Nigeria.
Pursuit of pet project on Natural Capital Accounting for Nigeria
The center came into the year with a determination to help Nigeria to develop pilot accounts and mainstream Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) into its policies, plans, and programs. With support from the World Bank, EfD Nigeria developed pilot accounts on land and ecosystem extent, coastal ecosystem extent, and greenhouse gas emissions. Technical staff from relevant ministries and agencies were trained on the rudiments of NCA.
Through constant engagements, the Nigerian government pledged its support to the NCA project through its Ministry of Environment. In November 2021, the Nigerian President signed the Climate Change Act. Section 29 of the Act provides for the development of natural capital accounts by the National Bureau of Statistics and uses the data from the accounts in making National Development Plans.
"We are confident that the newly signed Climate Change Act, which has given legal backing for the development of NCA for the country, will help fast-track the realization of Nigeria's NCA project," said the Director EfD-Nigeria, Dr. Nnaemeka Chukwuone, in a press statement.
Building a media team to aid policy advocacy
The center organized a one-day capacity-building workshop for journalists covering environment beats. Journalists from print, electronic and online media attended the workshop while facilitators were drawn from EfD Global Hub, academia, and the media industry.
"I am highly delighted with today's workshop; it has added to my knowledge about environmental challenges in Nigeria. From now on, I hope to take advantage of the resources on EfD's website in my news analysis," said Vivian Emoni, a correspondent with the News Agency of Nigeria.
As a result of the workshop, EfD-Nigeria has now a team of about 15 journalists partnering with the center in its policy engagements with the government and other stakeholders. The team was responsible for the wide dissemination of a press statement by the Director of EfD Nigeria on the signing into law of Nigeria's Climate Change Act in November.
Significant progress made on policy enhancing research projects
Within the year, EfD Nigeria made progress on three major research projects. The outcomes of the studies are expected to improve the government's policies on flood management (especially concerning gender), water provision, and forest management through the REDD+ program. Progress reports on the project indicate that the teams are in various stages of data collection in the projects on Coping with water scarcity, preferences, and willingness to pay for water supply in Enugu Nigeria and Estimation of Participation and welfare impacts of REDD+ community-based pilot projects in Nigeria. The team on Gender analysis of vulnerability to flooding risk in farming and fishing communities of Kogi State, Nigeria is working on producing the discussion paper and other deliverables.
Researchers at the center also published some EfD discussion papers and peer-reviewed research papers in international journals.
Dissemination of research findings with stakeholders in fishery and aquaculture
EfD Nigeria was scheduled to share the findings of two Aquaculture Performance Indicator (API) based studies on catfish and tilapia with stakeholders and policymakers in fishery and aquaculture on December 14, 2021. But the stakeholders, especially government representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, caused the postponement of the event to January 2022 to accommodate their schedule.
The workshop tagged A step towards improving the fishery and aquaculture sector in Nigeria was later held on January 27, 2022. The center shared findings of two studies on Fisheries Performance in Nigeria in Comparison with Some African Countries, and Catfish and Tilapia Aquaculture Performance in Nigeria: Evidence from Aquaculture Performance Indicator Approach. There was also a robust discussion and dialogue among stakeholders on moving forward the fisheries sector in Nigeria. One of the outcomes of the meeting was a communique by the stakeholders.
Securing a partnership with the Federal Ministry of Environment
In one of its discussions and dialogue with Chief Sharon Ikeazor, the Minister of Environment in December 2021, EfD Nigeria secured approval to partner with Nigeria's Ministry of Environment to achieve its environmental sustainability goals. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be signed in February 2022 by the University of Nigeria Nsukka and the Federal Ministry of Environment to advance this partnership.
According to the Director of EfD-Nigeria, Dr. Nnaemeka Chukwuone, the partnership will cover collaborative activities in capacity building for technical staff of the ministry, research, and modeling to help Nigeria achieve the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), and policy dialogue in the area of environment and natural resources. The center will in addition work with the ministry to develop proposals to attract funding from development agencies.
Boot camp for graduate students and young researchers at EfD-Nigeria
To boost the capacity of graduate students and young researchers on modern research techniques, EfD Nigeria organized a boot camp for graduate students and researchers. One of the pieces of training during the camp focused on Choice Modelling, a tool that researchers apply in measuring consumer preferences to guide evidence-based policies for development interventions.
A glimpse into 2022
The target of the NCA project is to get Nigeria to become a country that takes the lead in implementing NCA under the Global Program on Sustainability (GPS) and, through that, develop and mainstream NCA into policies, plans, and programs in Nigeria.
GPS is a World Bank program that builds on nearly a decade of experience from the Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES). It aims to integrate environmental and other sustainability considerations into public and private decisions by providing policymakers and the financial sector with the necessary metrics and tools.
This approach involves looking beyond GDP and traditional financial metrics to include accounting for environmental risks and opportunities, and valuing natural capital and ecosystem services.
“With the legal backing as contained in Nigeria's Climate Change Act, support from the World Bank, and the Nigerian government's commitment, EfD-Nigeria will most likely help achieve the target in 2022,” said Dr Nnaemeka Chukwuone, Director EfD Nigeria.
The center looks forward to deepening its policy engagements and collaboration with key government ministries and agencies and other stakeholders within its research focus. There is also a plan to work with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, specifically, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, to update obsolete fishery policies and legal frameworks.
The center will advance its capacity-building program for graduate students and young researchers and conduct refresher courses for senior researchers within the year. Also, new studies will be initiated, while the ongoing ones will be completed and the results disseminated to policymakers who are already aware of these studies.
By: Inya Agha Egwu