Archive for January 2012
The community of international environmentalists has again displayed their great and deep commitment to the “long-struggle” for the Niger-Delta. The community through the IUCN group [that promotes policies and actions to harmonize the conservation of nature with the crucial socio-economic and cultural concerns of human communities] championed by Prof. Richard Steiner, University of Alaska [ret.] has petitioned the Norway Government Pension Fund recommending the organization’s full divestment and exclusion of all holdings in Royal Dutch Shell Plc. This recommendation was made based on the severe environmental and social harm Shell has done in the Niger-Delta.
This new development from the group reconfirms to me the group’s effort and commitment to give souls to societies and breathe life into the dead conscience of capitalist organizations and exploiters.
While I acknowledge that it’s a great privilege for me [representing SustainableNigeriaTM] to be part of the signatories and strong endorser of this petition, I also strongly believe that the success of this petition/request will be a great and a strong defining point to the long struggle for the Niger-Delta. This request to me is very strategic, realistic and very significant to the future where business ideas and ambitions will be balanced with conscience.
Haven read through the letter a number of times, the strong message in the note that has triggered my passion for the whole process is the “call on the Norway Government Pension Fund” to reawaken their conscience and reshape the history of this long-struggle for the Niger-Delta.
If the desired/very positive result is achieved, Norway Government Pension Fund will forever be favoured in the history of achieving a sustainable Niger-Delta.
The response from a colleague in IUCN-SEAPRISE group after sharing my opinion on the recent deal between the Nigerian government and Global Biofuels, I realised that several deals on Biofuels initiated by some states and federal agencies exist. This definitely was a surprise to me and also raised my fears on the vulnerability of Biofuels to dangerous capitalists and fraudsters in the Nigerian government [both federal and state].
Some of the deals include:
- Nigerian Export-Import Bank giving $695 million to five companies investing in renewable, $12million for Jatropha project and $56 million for a sorghum ethanol project
- Dangote Group’s $7.7Billion investment in River Energy City, home of budding $2Billion fertilizer and ethanol plant project
- Global Biofuels $91 million investment on ethanol plants across the West Africa region with the expectation of 72million litres of ethanol, land-use of 65,000ha in Nigeria and 32,500ha in neighbouring countries
One thing that was clear to me from all these signed deals is that these projects will strongly depend on Nigeria’s agricultural sector which means there are potentials for strong competition on agricultural land use for food crops and agricultural land use for biofuel crops.
Biofuel especially ethanol is fast becoming an important commodity to some nations, in some nations, ethanol already compliments some crude oil extract as an energy source while it has become a strong competition as a viable energy source that has lead to the decline in the demand of pms and diesel in other nations.
This new commodity also has its many controversies considering the energy consumed by the process itself, the increasing commercial value and the need to source it from the very limited agricultural resources that also feeds the ever increasing world’s human population. Some African nations are already victims of the negative effects of growing biofuel crops which includes land-grabs and the exploitation of local farmers.
With my relatively short experience in environmentalism, I can assert that Nigeria has all the characteristics of a nation that is highly vulnerable to fraud and exploitation in the process of building a biofuel industry, and at this point we cannot underestimate the dangers of not coordinating the investments and the development of our biofuel industry.
Fine, the fact that the Nigerian leadership is gradually driving the nation towards renewable gladdens my heart, but the volume and the lack of coordination in these potential major biofuel projects is something very confusing and saddening too.
Some Nigerians are already struggling with the problems of food insecurity while the rural farmers’ productivity is on the decline due to the impacts of climate change. It’s sad enough that the Nigerian leadership is largely insensitive to the looming problem of food insecurity, this new unchecked interests in biofuels may be disastrous.
“Businesses will play a pivotal role in meeting the sustainability challenge of 21st century” – meaning a potential global brand from Nigeria should be ready to struggle to be at the frontline in efforts to achieve sustainability.
Sustainability in the 21st century has grown to become a key tactic for modern businesses in their bid to survive in the future. I couldn’t help but pay attention to the spotlight given to sustainability in the recent issues of my favourite journal [MHD: supply change solutions]. An Australian journal designed to cater for the supply chain needs of organizations globally, highlighting the best practises and ideas and publishing articles from “supply chain and logistics” experts [the arrangement of supply change and logistics still in debate of what comes first – acknowledged].
At this point, it’s important for me to state that I acknowledge consumerism in Nigeria is too weak to drive Nigerian businesses towards sustainability, but the ambitions and goals of Nigerian businesses to operate and expand across borders will open them and drive towards the new global culture of sustainability.
Reading through the September/October 2011 issue of the journal, my favourite article titled “2020 future value chain” in details discussed sustainable business as the business as the business of the future and described sustainability as the most important tactic for any business that needs to strengthen its brand and compete favourably in the future. From the article I realized that organizations growing the sustainability direction are driven by two things, the act of “green consumerism” and targeted government policies, where emerging green consumers demand for green goods and transparency in the chain of production and governments also bend organizations in order to meet their global commitment to trans-border/global agreements on environment.
For organizations to smoothly go this direction, the journal mentioned the need for organization to start to commit to the protection of forests [e.g. running paperless offices], reduction in the release of green house gasses, need to start measuring carbon emissions and being transparent with the results, sincere consumer engagements, compliance with both local and international standards of operations amongst others.
Few months later when I got the November/December 2011 issue, to my surprise, the same article titled “2020 future value chain” was featured again with clearer recommendations for companies and super examples of how global brands has gone green. In the article, after identifying sustainability as a strong tactic of the future, the article detailed how PepsiCo China has significantly helped improve agriculture in the rural parts of China, how PepsiCo China has installed necessary infrastructure [roads, green electric supplies and co], how PepsiCo China has installed water conserving, pivot irrigators, sand dune stabilizing crops to protect rural communities from erosion caused by sand storms. The journal also detailed PepsiCo China’s very strong and productive partnership with farmers and how they are helping the farmers to adapt to climate change. The journal also highlighted a new coca-cola Hellenic recent project of designing and building energy efficient bottling plant in Northern Ireland, while Nestle has also established sound partnership with cocoa farmers in some developed countries. So many other global brands with large markets in Nigeria were discussed in the journal.
Nigeria has very large market/consumers that are powerful enough to command these beautiful projects from corporate organizations as part their responsibilities, but Nigerian consumers are too weak to shape out the right demands [their rights] and the leadership unfortunately lacks vision and is struggling with corruption, making them vulnerable to the immoral games of big corporate organizations. But the good news is the global trend is about to “pull” Nigerian business too, globalization has made it easy for organizations to tap into opportunities in foreign markets and thankfully there are “global standards for global operations”. Nigerian business from my observations are highly ambitious, driven to optimize the opportunities globalization offers, so it’s now necessary for them to blend with international practises that largely demands for responsible and transparent business operations.
“It’s now clear that great nations of the future will compete based on their level of innovation and the extent of their energy independence”
Sustainable economy is a concept that is growing out of the global green revolution that appears to be the foundation of modern development plans in developed nations.
Building a sustainable economy is all about building a green economy that is more resilient to the volatile and fragile energy market in the period of uncertainties.
Building a sustainable economy is all about building new industries that will focus on the development of clean energy while Nigeria tries to meet up in this next phase of global development that will be based on new principles emerging from the new “green economics”.
The world is at the brink of this new industrial era, and from observation the green energy market has shaped out and is now expanding in value with smart nations cutting their own share out of it based on innovation and the development of super policies that helps them integrate into this emerging sector. The United Kingdom for example already controls market share worth 112Billon pounds, while the green sector employees over 900,000 people.
As the global efforts and calls to cut carbons and become more sustainable increases, this green energy market will grow significantly. Countries that take the lead in building capacities and enhancing human innovation and also able to develop adequate policies in this area will take the lead. For example Germany as a nation is considered as the expert in turbine manufacturing, Chinese considered the experts in solar energy development while other nations too are building their capacity in other areas of this emerging green energy sector.
The big lesson in all is that its time Nigeria as a nation start to remove the obstacles to innovation and start to think on how to structure this sector internally and also tap into the opportunities the sector offers externally. Nigeria is a nation of 150 million people in estimate with thousands of experts in the engineering field, experts young and enthusiastic enough to meet up with any nation of the world in this green revolution. As noted at the beginning of this short article, nations in the future will compete and grow based on their level of innovation and energy independence, and this definitely holds excellent solutions to our social problems. Involvement of Nigerian in this emerging global green sector has a lot to contribute positively in building our national image as a nation that is also ready for the future.
In conclusion, Nigeria as a nation has a lot to gain in “going-green” and a lot to gain in becoming “sustainable”.
With my relatively short years in environmentalism while I also acknowledge my very not-extended network in environmentalism, I have read so many environmental news ignored by the mainstream media houses in Nigeria. Some of these news are very shocking while some are very confusing, when you consider how very negative the impacts of the problems reported is and the fact that only a few cares to dig deeper with foreign help most of the time. The painful part is the fact that the detailed news that reflects the passion of the writer or reporter is mostly by foreigners or published in foreign media.
Today, we will use this opportunity to bring back with dates the summary of some of the environmental news we have missed or ignored, as part of our effort to draw attention to the need to protect our environment.
On the 24th of August, 2010, I got an email from an authoritative foreign website I subscribed to, with big captions and written as title though in small letters is “remember saro-wiwa”. This news report reflected the anger of foreign environmentalists on the “outrageous” UNEP report that wanted to “exonerate” Shell over Niger-Delta Oil spills in Nigeria. This email came with other detailed documents with endorsements as authentic by authoritative foreign non-profit environmental organizations and passionate environmental consultants that obviously will never cease to fight for Nigeria while we Nigerians totally “depopularize” the need to protect the environment.
The article presented detailed analysis of what the UN report has done wrong, the suspicious Shell and UNEP relationship and what they are trying to cover-up, the potential harm the report could cause and the action they took.
Another email came in on December 23rd 2010, though very personal and more of a leaked information that exposed how Shell settled a Nigerian corruption case by paying 60 million dollars in a plea bargain to a Nigerian Anti-Corruption Agency [as reported in the email] and how they abandoned their Biofuel plantation contrary to their policies and promises of becoming a strong example in the global effort to become sustainable. As usual, this was not an issue to be agitated on as a Nigeria!
Interesting news was when Nigeria negotiated 250 million US dollars in a settlement deal to drop all charges against the United States former Vice President Dick Cheney and others over Halliburton bribery scandal. As usual investigative report on this was never carried out, and the foreign media that reported this did with a great disrespect for the Nigerian leadership.
There are several other emails similar to the summaries above on “ignored-environmental-reports”, emails that reveals the failures in social responsibilities by organization that I would not want to bore you with. But you can contact me by email or tweet @ me @SusNigeria if you will like a “forward”
The question is, when will Nigerians attach value to environmentalism and when will they realize environmentalism as a great part of our quest on quality living?
Please follow the writer on twitter @SusNigeria
Please read this “sweet-bitter” news first @: http://dlvr.it/13M2ZZ
To my surprise on the 3rd of January, 2012, the day I concluded my last article on the “Potentials for Bio-fuels in Nigeria” the Nigerian Federal Government signs N424billion bio-fuels electricity generating plant deal with “Global Biofuels” a supposed “indigenous” bio-fuel producer running a project with 70% of the funds from the “Chinese Government” while it’s still sourcing for the remaining 30% from private investors! How weird can things get?
Going back to the second to the last paragraph on the last article where I noted that:
‘’This aspect of the document indicates the vulnerability of the plan for bio-fuels to dangerous capitalists or let’s say capitalists without conscience . . . bio-fuel project is something that should give a lot of preference to social development with the strong objective to enhance energy independence and grass-root economic development in Nigeria”
Reading the last paragraph of this “sweet-bitter” news @ http://dlvr.it/13M2ZZ that states the Chinese Government’s role as the main funder of the bio-fuel project scares me and to a great extent confirms my fears. Also considering the desperation of the Chinese Government to solidify its leading position in the world economy, their track record and the vulnerabilities of Nigeria and Nigerians due to corruption, poverty and bad leadership. I think Nigerians need to start paying some attention!
Deep social discussions with a never seen before “friend” and fellow Nigerian environmentalist met on twitter @DoksP, made me realize how interested the Nigerian government is in developing bio-fuels as energy alternative in Nigeria. During the discussion, he shared with me a major policy document produced by the Nigerian government on their readiness to also integrate bio-fuel production into the downstream oil sector as part of the incentives to drive attraction to the idea of energy alternatives, a subject with extremely low popularity in Nigeria. The document that was produced in 2007 [4 years ago] made provisions for the regulatory framework for the establishment and functioning of the bio-fuels energy commission, the aspect that I personally feel may be the major flaw of this laudable idea considering the vulnerability of establishing commission to politicization in Nigeria and the potential to draw up unnecessary bureaucracy and the general lack of trust in governance in Nigeria.
Bio-fuels are derived from natural carbon fixation on wastes from households, restaurants, livestock and other organic matter with potentials as energy source [biomass]. Bio-fuel is an energy alternative that has added so much value to nations economically, and investments in bio-fuels have improved the image of such nation as progressive and innovative, as nations that are ready for the future where innovation is important for development. A few minutes research made me realize that some nations have taken major steps in their effort to trade bio-fuels as commodity across international borders, and I had to imagine the chains of opportunities meaningful investment in bio-fuels could bring including job creation and local economic development that Nigeria desperately needs. Also looking at the role of bio-fuel development within the concept of building a green economy [socio-economic ideology inclusive] as slightly mentioned earlier, nations that has seen the need to gradually shift bio-fuel production to the mainstream will also enjoy great opportunities to build social equity [comes with the holistic package of building a green economy] and improve the standards of living of its citizens [opportunities Nigerians also despirately need]
Coming back to take a better look at the potentials for bio-fuels in Nigeria, with the belief that investments in bio-fuels will open opportunities for economic and social development, I will start with the critical analysis of the policy document with the intention to highlight its weaknesses and strength.
As described in the policy document, the government has the intention of dividing implementation process into two phases, where the first phase caters for the integration of bio-fuel use into the downstream oil sector in order to establish solid market use of the product, and to also add some market value to the product. This aspect again shows some good intention, but a little confusing considering the lack of clear specifics on the intended bio-fuel production and use [i.e. type of bio-fuel, quantity and brief anticipated results/clear forecast]. The first phase of implementation also became more confusing with the too early role of importation while the document disappointingly ignores the very numerous local sources of raw material for bio-fuels. This role given to importation also goes against the main goals of the increasing calls for and use of bio-fuel globally which includes reduction of waste/recycling, local economic development, development of the green energy sector from the grass-root, energy independence amongst others.
The impressive second phase of the bio-fuel implementation programme that will run concurrently with the first phase strongly identifies with the need to engage the agricultural sector and investments will be private sector driven [though am not sure if there is any policy support for bio-fuels in the agricultural sector, and a still not sure on how the private sector will be engaged]. Going on further to study the policy objectives, it’s so clear that the Nigerian government has seen the potentials in developing bio-fuels, and they are ready to optimize the little opportunities they have seen in the bio-fuel project. The government has been able to identify the potentials for job creation, rural and agricultural development even though this policy document was designed in isolation from what is obtainable in the Nigerian agricultural sector as “the early stage” of this project.
It’s also important to consider the fact that the approach outlined in the document if not well designed may threaten the nation’s food security leading to poverty and more under-development.
Where I have my reservations on the policy document on this bio-fuel project is the plan to attract foreign investments into the intending Nigerian bio-fuel industry. This aspect of the document indicates the vulnerability of the plan for bio-fuels to dangerous capitalists or let’s says capitalists without conscience. Bio-fuels got the attraction it has now because it’s one of the products that drives sustainable development in societies and achieving sustainable development in the new global world [driven by capitalist interests] is all about giving souls to societies and breathing life into dead conscience of emerging capitalist societies. So basically, a bio-fuel project is something that should give a lot of preference to social development with strong objective to enhance energy independence and grass-root economic development in Nigeria.
On a last note, the plan on bio-fuels in Nigeria as presented in the policy document has failed to properly define all inclusive stakeholders that could have given the document a strong point as a project developed for the good of the masses. Though I have not condemned the approach explained in the document because it is very valid too considering the fact that the project needs to survive in the global economy driven by capitalist theories and practises. But the plans on bio-fuels should expand to the grass-root with the intention to save the environment and drive sustainable development too.
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