The need to “invest in our planet”
Francis Ezeh, Rinret Best, and Onyekachi Chukwu.
Image source : The Guardian, Nigeria
As we move further into the 21st century, it has become increasingly clear that the health of our planet is in a precarious state. From extreme weather conditions caused by the change in climate, to disruption of ecosystems leading to land degradation. We are currently facing a range of environmental challenges that require urgent action. The good news is that there are a wide range of investment actions that we can take to help protect and preserve our planet for future generations. This year’s theme for World Earth Day, “Investing in Our Planet,” calls for bold actions, innovations, and changes to foster partnerships between businesses, societies, and governments to ensure the planet’s survival for future generations. Therefore, we will explore some of the ways in which we can invest in our planet and secure a more sustainable future for ourselves and our children. These include stopping the use of fossil fuels, practicing sustainable agriculture, moving towards zero emissions in the transport sector, and making sustainable use of water resources.
Stop the burning of fossil fuels.
Climate change is unequivocally the most challenging environmental issue of our time. One of the major sources of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere is the burning of fossil fuels. Atmospheric CO2 levels have been below 300 ppm, but since pre-industrialization, they have now gone above 400 ppm, which is now causing a rise in global temperature of more than. 1 °C. This is also causing a range of severe impacts, such as rising sea levels, drought, wildfires, flooding, and shifts in the patterns of plant and animal life. To address this issue, one of the most important investments we can make is to stop business as usual and adopt renewable technologies such as solar, wind, and hydropower. This would go a long way toward reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and slowing the pace of climate change.
Forests are a critical part of our planet’s ecosystem because they serve as carbon sinks and provide habitat for wildlife and biodiversity. Unfortunately, deforestation has become a major problem in many parts of the world as forests are cleared for agriculture and logging is provided for firewood used in cooking. Deforestation can be stopped through forest conservation and restoration initiatives like the Great Green Wall initiative launched in 2007 by the African Union (AU) and the T.R.E.E. initiative by the Rural Environmental Empowerment Initiative in Nigeria. This can help to protect our ecosystems and ensure that they continue to provide us with the benefits that we need.
Practicing Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainable agriculture is also essential to enable us to address the issue of food security with the growing global population. Agriculture is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but it is also a critical source of food for billions of people around the world. By adopting sustainable farming practices through Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), which include crop rotation, organic farming, and agroforestry, we can reduce the environmental impact of agriculture while still meeting our food needs.
Access to clean water and sanitation, which is in line with SDG Goal 6, is a basic human right. As of 2021, about 2.5 million people did not have access to basic water, hygiene, and sanitation, which is an 8% increase from 2020. It has become important for us to utilize and not waste this natural resource. Water pollution is a major problem in many parts of the world, and it is linked to a range of health issues, such as diarrhea, cholera, and other waterborne diseases. By investing in clean water and sanitation infrastructure, we can reduce the environmental impact of human activities and ensure that everyone has access to the basic necessities of life.
Image source: The Sun, Nigeria
Transport is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, but it is also an essential part of modern life. Moving towards sustainable transportation and exploring other options like electric vehicles (EV), cycling, using public transport instead of driving, and sharing a car as a family can help cut down on emissions. By investing in sustainable transport options such as public transport, electric cars, and cycling infrastructure, we can reduce the environmental impact of transport while still meeting our mobility needs, thereby creating a win-win situation.
Globally, improper waste management has been a major problem for people living. in both rural and urban areas. Plastic waste has become a menace and has found a way as microplastics into drinking water, with the risk of affecting human health. A report by the United Nations shows the plastic waste in Nigeria is about 1.25 metric tons, accounting for 13% of solid waste. This has become a matter that needs to be treated with urgency and has prompted the Nigerian government, in conjunction with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Japanese government, to launch a project to pilot in Lagos and Abuja — Promoting Resource-efficient and Circular Economy Principles and Practices. Implementation of similar projects would go a long way toward solving the problem of environmental pollution and providing a cleaner and safer environment.
In conclusion, it is of the utmost importance for government, private organizations, and individuals to work together to protect our earth, and we can make significant progress toward a sustainable future today by prioritizing green innovation, universal climate education, adequate funding, and equity.
Francis Ezeh is a volunteer at Clean Technology Hub.
Rinret Best is Associate II, Environment and Climate Action at Clean Technology Hub.
Onyekachi Chukwu is Associate, Environment and Climate action at Clean Technology Hub.