By Vanessa Obioha
At the virtual event that saw the finalists of Solution17 Climate Action in Covenant University pitch their ideas and enterprises to the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Sustainable Development Goals, the presidency pledged unwavering support to the initiative.
The Senior Technical Adviser to the SSAP who represented Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, while congratulating the finalists and the organisers for the initiative, pointed out that the youths play a critical role in the attainment of the SDGs in Nigeria.
“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development envisions a present and a future that is economically sustainable, socially inclusive and environmentally resilient. And that is expressed through the framing of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, 169 targets and 230 key performance indicators. Within the context of Nigeria, with the number of youths that are quite resourceful and the innovative solutions that we’ve seen in the presentations by the finalists, you will agree with us, that the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without the active participation of youth. And in this context in the world, the design and implementation of sustainable, as well as innovative solutions that will help us advance the agenda of the SDGs in Nigeria.”
He added that the Office is dedicated to supporting the design and implementation of policies and programmes in the Federal Ministry of Environment, that specifically address all the issues embedded in the three to five specific targets of the climate action, and that involve the strengthening of adaptive capacities to address climate related hazards, as well as natural disasters in Nigeria, and by extension, involvement by countries.
“We support the implementation of all internationally agreed development goals, specifically the Paris Agreement. In all of this. The role of youths, their creativity, and in terms of the competitive advantage they bring to the 2030 agenda, cannot be overemphasised. And so, we are here to support innovative and global solutions to attainment, in the desire to fast track the attainment of SDGs as we commence the decade of actions for the SDGs.”
Orelope-Adefulire who later joined the webinar concluded that more support is needed to attain the SDGs.
“We will need more support, participation and collaboration, because this is a big community. If we can have maximum support, we won’t be far from getting to our destination because young people need to know about the SDGs. The basic communities needs to know more about what they can contribute and how it can be embedded in the curriculum. And if Covenant University can be the lead university to galvanise other universities in Nigeria, that will be fine. I’m sure they have the capacity and capability to do that. So we would be looking forward to more collaborations.”
The 17 ideas and enterprises presented by the finalists; a combination of graduate, undergraduates and post graduate students of Covenant University and are aged 18-35, highlight the different environmental hazards faced in the country. From waste management to building innovative games that will change the mindset of Nigerians, particularly children and youths on climate change, the participants displayed dedication and excellence in achieving their targeted projects.
Also featured at the event were the founder of Creative Youth Community Development Initiative (CYCDI), Foluke Michael, who is championing the cause in collaboration with THISDAY Group and Covenant University. In an interactive session with THISDAY Newspaper and Executive Director, THISDAY CONFERENCES, Ayo Arowolo and this reporter, the role of the media in giving ample coverage to climate change was discussed.
Mr. Arowolo pointed out that the media will always be attracted to great stories that easily attract attention.
“This project is one that doesn’t need any persuasion. It is a seller, a knockout.
These youths, what they have just done is just the beginning. If they can create this then there are other more outstanding students that we have not yet discovered, and that’s where the media comes in. We have to expose them, and that informs what we at THISDAY and ARISE TV have been doing to ensure that we take it from different angles. And I can assure you that behind the scenes we are getting encouraged from the international press. We will collaborate, use our media power to expose and promote such innovations.”
The Senior Economic Adviser, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Dr. Amarakoon Bandara in his presentation highlighted that 55% of youths in Nigeria are either underemployed or unemployed. He advised the finalists to learn and develop skills which they can apply by engaging with different government institutions and involve in the policymaking that can help them contribute to the events of SDGs and their implementations.
Novo Isioro, an SDG 16 advocate, educated the finalists on climate action for peace, citing the Lake Chad and Niger Delta migration crisis.
The finalists will be moving to the virtual reality innovation hub on July 10 where they will spend three days looking at ways to create successful social enterprises, marketing and branding strategies and the implementation stages of their projects.
“We want to see real life projects. I do not believe in talks, let us see action. This is the only way we can mobilise the country to take action. Imagine Boma Epelle, who is only about 18 years old, a 300 level Biochemistry Covenant University and the founder of ‘The GreenHouse Sink’ . She has one more year to go and is actually stepping out as an employer of labour. This is the new Nigeria we’re looking at. So, this is the beginning of creating the new Nigeria, the future we want to see, and this process will drive us,” concluded Michael.