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Considering the dangers posed by the existing global production and consumption patterns, evident in the present devastating effects of climate change, the need to adopt sustainable practices has never been more crucial.

This was the key message as environmental, health and sustainability experts gathered at a forum last week, organized as part of the first edition of the Lagos Sustainability Week (LSW) which was held from 2nd to 9th of this month.

Similar to the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, LSW was organized to generate awareness and actions towards sustainability transitioning in Lagos State. Also, the initiative sought to channel the focus of policymakers and other relevant stakeholders towards the attainment of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030.

The LSW conference on September 6, held in partnership with the UN Information Center (UNIC) in Lagos, had the theme: Localizing Sustainability – Policy and Innovation. While delivering his presentation at the forum, the Managing Director of SMEFUNDS Capital, Dr. Jubril Adeojo, highlighted the importance of green bonds and financing as a tool for sustainable development.

Meanwhile, the Officer-in-Charge at the UNIC, Oluseyi Soremekun, pointed out that the awareness and individual commitment to having a sustainable environment as regards climate action is weak in Nigeria. According to him, the only way to address that is to step up the awareness about the dangers of not having ‘responsible’ production and consumption as stated in the SDGs.

However, the awareness, especially about plastic pollution, needs to be backed by government policies. “The policy should come with legislation on single-use plastics because one of the greatest environmental challenges we have in Nigeria is plastic,” the UN official told Ventures Africa. “You see them in drainages and on the street. They didn’t come from the sky, individuals dump them there.”

Speaking further on the type of legislation the country needs to encourage sustainability practices by people, Soremekun said the policy may not be punitive but be reward or incentive-based that will encourage people not to dump plastics out there.

“Of course, banning it (single-use plastics) is a major step so that new ones will not get there,” he added. “But those that have found their way to the street and drains can be taken off through an incentive-based system.”

Soremekun also called on the private sector and industrial players to not consider sustainability just as an activity under Corporate Social Responsibility, instead, they should ensure their operations and infrastructure are geared towards achieving sustainable development.

The week-long LSW featured other activities including a beach cleanup, Tweet Meet, a sustainability hackathon, and an upcoming tree planting launch.

The beach cleanup, which was held at the Kid’s beach Garden beside Elegushi Beach in Lagos, attracted over 50 volunteers and players including the Marine Gang of the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).

Having Adiya Atuluku, a sustainability and strategy consultant as a guest, the hour-long Tweet Meet under the tag Attitude change, Not climate change, focused on the simple ways that the average person can play a role in tackling the global challenge of climate change.

Following an open call for the Sustainability Hackathon, hackers were invited to apply tech, design and sustainability principles to solve problems of the SDGs. Specific attention was paid to ideas related to goals 11 – sustainable cities and community; 12 – responsible consumption and production; and 13 – Climate action.

At the Hackathon which was supported by Cafe One by Sterling Bank, three ideas were created and a favored idea is up to be developed with partners of the event, organizers of the event said.

The tree planting launch, expected to come up on September 14, is an action based on the commitment by LSW. The event will be marked at Orile on the Lagos-Badagry Express Way while the planting exercise will continue in schools across the state.

“I’m quite optimistic that Nigeria will make it by that 2030 especially in the attainment of most of the goals,” Soremekun added, regarding Nigeria’s chances of achieving sustainable development by the UN deadline. But “it may not be all (as) you are not likely to find a country that will achieve all because priorities could play in.”

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