• CCCD Office, AE-FUNAI, Ikwo, Ebonyi State, Nigeria.
  • Mon - Fri 8.00 - 17.00. Sunday CLOSED

Saving Lagos from the Scourge of Plastic Pollution: Is Plastics Ban the Answer?

Dr. Demilade Fayemiwo (PhD Chemical Engineering)

It is impossible to spend a day in Lagos Nigeria without encountering plastic. From the street hawkers who sell water in plastic sachets to the bottling companies who rely on plastic for their packaging needs, plastic in Lagos is big business and consequently, big pollution.

 Except for the opulent suburb of Victoria Island, the rest of the city is like a game of plastic Jenga, where the players are so adept at building the stack, there is no indication of an impending collapse. Businesses in the city, including culinary outlets, bottling companies and raw food vendors rely on plastic for their packaging needs and the success of their business. Consequently, the positive economic impact of plastic has muted its ill-effects. Despite the increased global outcry against plastic pollution, the ease of access to plastic as a packaging material, as well as its affordability, encourages its use and does not create urgency to seek suitable alternatives. Coupled with a lack of functional sanitation systems, this has resulted in uncontrolled plastic pollution in Lagos, exposing residents to harmful health effects and amplifying environmental degradation.

Plastic Pollution and Health

Plastic consists mainly of petrochemicals (some of which are carcinogenic) and endocrine-disrupting compounds like BPA. According to a study by Rubin (2015), strong linkages exist between the ingestion of BPA and health conditions such as diabetes and obesity. In women, BPA from plastic has been linked to recurrent miscarriages, and in men, a decrease in sperm quality (Rubin, 2015). Additionally, research shows that plastic is related to other chronic illnesses, including the development of cancerous tumours (Verma et al., 2016). Furthermore, plastic wastes contribute significantly to the physical degradation that is rife across the city of Lagos. Being a coastal city, the plastic waste in Lagos contributes to the pollution of the oceans and affects the health of aquatic life.

Flood drainages have been blocked by plastic material, resulting in the flooding of roads and loss of property during the rainy season. Hence, state environmental protection agencies must address the problem of plastic pollution with urgency.

Current effort to ban in Lagos

The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) is at the genesis of developing policies that address plastic pollution in the city. At the beginning of 2020, the agency banned single-use plastics from its premises in favour of multiple-use alternatives. While this might seem like a step in the right direction, the agency has failed to communicate this ban to the public and has not taken into consideration the importance of addressing plastic pollution in a step-wise approach that encourages sustainable development. Banning plastic in a city where businesses that contribute to GDP are heavily reliant on its use might be considered an aggressive move on the part of the agency and may result in a lack of buy-in from key stakeholders. Furthermore, without functional waste management technologies and integrated sanitation systems, the amount of plastic that has accumulated in the environment will not be processed appropriately, leaving the indelible mark of pollution on the city.

Moving Beyond a Ban

Therefore, LASEPA will need to consider a combination of approaches and policies aimed at maintaining the delicate balance between economic sustenance/growth and environmental health. The most obvious approach is to invest in city-wide sanitation services and waste management technologies to remove existing plastic litter all over the city. Although this will not reduce the use of plastic or its ill effects, it will aid the clean-up of existing plastic waste and unclog the city’s drainage system to reduce incidences of flooding. This can be accompanied by policies that regulate the disposal of plastic waste into the environment. A not-so-obvious approach is for LASEPA is to explore the local production of biodegradable plastics. Biodegradable plastics are said to degrade in environmental media within six months and are preferred alternatives to conventional plastic. This approach will sustain plastic-reliant businesses while reducing the exposure of the population to harmful carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Accompanying policies enforcing the use of biodegradable plastics for plastic-reliant businesses can change the pollution landscape of the city. LASEPA can also stick to its current ban on plastic; however, it should implement this approach with a five-year transition plan where plastic-reliant businesses have sufficient time to explore suitable alternatives. The five-year transition period will give room for multiple stakeholders such as the government, small and medium businesses and the informal trading sector to drive an inclusive policymaking process that allows for dialogue and investment in systems and processes that yield sustainable alternatives to plastic. It is also beneficial for LASEPA to understand that plastic, despite its ill effects, holds incredible potential for establishing a circular economy. In the absence of functional waste management systems, converting plastic to new materials for paving roads can drive much-needed investment and address some of the pressing challenges such as the lack of roads in many parts of the city.

There is no single approach that can transform Lagos from the plastic dystopia it has become; being a densely-populated city with a large informal trading sector, it is a herculean task. However, addressing the foundation of waste management through small repeated and dedicated efforts will ultimately lead to the development of effective policies and make a difference for the residents of Lagos Nigeria.



Rubin, Beverly S. “Bisphenol A: an endocrine disruptor with widespread exposure and multiple effects.” The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology 127.1-2 (2011): 27-34.

Verma, Rinku, et al. “Toxic pollutants from plastic waste-a review.” Procedia Environ. Sci 35 (2016): 701-708.

Professor Chukwumerije Okereke

Nigeria’s eyes turn to the UK as climate summit draws closer

By Professor Chukwumerije Okereke

Nigeria and the UK have had a troubled history. Nearly a hundred years of resource extraction and colonialism has left its mark on both our countries. Now, Nigeria and the UK are bound by the Commonwealth, an alliance which has been described as a “family” by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

dy to host the crucial COP26 climate change summit a little more than a year from now, it’s time for Nigeria to speak to Britain and tell the truth: Britain is failing on climate leadership and Africa needs you to step up.

Nowhere suffers more from climate change than Africa. Nigeria is suffering from a rise in drought and more extreme weather events. Lake Chad is drying up and, with 70% of Nigerians working primarily in agriculture, huge numbers of people are economically vulnerable to climate change too. The impact, which has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, is clear to see, whether you live in Makoko or, like UK Ambassador Catriona Laing, in the British Embassy.

So why is Nigeria looking to the UK for answers? It’s partly a question of arithmetic: while the UK is one of the bigger emitters in history, Nigeria has emitted just 0.24% of global historic emissions. Yet, our country is already suffering catastrophic consequences from climate change. It’s also because, after a successful bid to lead and host next year’s grand UN convention on climate change, Britain has put itself into the spotlight of a planet that is finally beginning to see the reality of our collapsing ecosystem.

But more than anything, countries like ours are growing nervous because Britain is simply not doing enough. Not even the most silky-tongued ambassador, jolly Prime Minister, or regal Queen can spin their way out of our reality of floods, droughts and conflict caused by climate change.

We are aware that the UK has a pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050, but right now, the UK is failing to rise to the challenge of climate breakdown – and is making some very public missteps.

First, there are the bizarre investment decisions, like the controversial judgement to issue an enormous loan guarantee to a gas pipeline project in Mozambique without a clear plan about the implications for climate change.

Next, as countries around the world proudly unveil investment in renewables technologies, the UK is curiously choosing to open a new coal mine – the dirtiest fossil fuel of them all. Most bizarrely of all, it’s far from clear that Britain will meet its own deadline to submit its plan to cut carbon emissions.

As the world’s balance of power slowly continues to recover from colonialism, Britain needs to hang on to its soft influence as its economic dominance continues to diminish. The UK has much to be proud of – a global reputation for innovation, culture and diplomacy, the mother of all parliaments, and a proudly free press.

But Britain hasn’t yet shown the world that it is willing to use this global influence to tackle climate change. The UK has the ear of global corporations – so why isn’t it doing a better job of getting them to cut their sky-high carbon emissions? The UK has major influence in the G20 and UN – so why isn’t it pushing these bodies to go further, faster in protecting the world from climate change?

The UK has significant influence over countries like the US and Australia, notorious for their weak and slow response to climate change. So why hasn’t it confronted their inaction – and why has it instead appointed former Australian PM, and climate change denier, Tony Abbot, to the UK’s Board of Trade?

It will never be easy or comfortable to stand up to big business or global superpowers. But if its leaders and ambassadors want to protect its images as a global Britain, they must.

The UK continues to be one of the most generous aid donors to less developed countries. But its hard-won political commitment to giving 0.7% of its income away in aid won’t be enough to help countries recover from the catastrophic droughts, floods, crop failures, and fires that will result from climate breakdown.

Instead, Britain needs to stand shoulder to shoulder with less developed countries by driving forward funding to help them become more resilient to the impact of climate change. And it needs to do everything it can to drive financing towards projects that help poorer countries transition to renewable energy – and prevent them from being trapped into permanent reliance on fossil fuels.

igerians can look proudly at some of our recent decisions – ourCovid-19 recovery plan that scrapped fossil fuel subsidies and improved access to energy with a major expansion of solar power. It’s decisions like these that allow a country to stand tall and face the world at next year’s climate summit. Will the UK be able to do the same?

Next year, Britain will take on the Presidency of the COP26 summit in its first year out of the European Union. Its leaders say they can prove it is still a global powerhouse – and they’ll be relying on strong trading and diplomatic relationships around the world, including here in Nigeria.

If the UK is to have any hope of maintaining those links, its leaders and ambassadors can’t just talk about climate change. They must actually lead.

By Professor Chukwumerije Okereke

Okereke is the Director of the Centre of Climate Change and Development at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ebonyi State, Nigeria.  He is a Visiting Professor at Oxford University, UK and Coordinating Lead Author for the United Nations’ IPCC

Professor Chukwumerije Okereke

Assessment of implementation of Nigeria’s original NDC and new ambition intent

By Professor Chukwumerije Okereke

Nigeria was among the 190 countries that submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UNFCCC in the run up to the COP meeting in Paris in 2015. Nigeria’s INDC has since been subsequently converted into the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) following the country’s ratification of the Paris Agreement in May 2017. With a promise of 20% unconditional emission reduction and 45% conditional emissions by 2030 compared to 2010 based line scenario, Nigeria’s NDC can be considered quite ambitious.

However, in keeping with the provision of the Paris Agreement Nigeria, like most other countries are currently in the process of revising and updating the NDC. The process of revising the NDC in Nigeria is being supported by The NDC Partnership, which is an international initiative with members including countries, international institutions and non-state actors, through a programme called Climate Action Enhancement Package (CEAP).

The stated intention of the revision process is to enhance the NDCs, including by raising ambition as part of the Paris Agreement’s NDC update process, allowing countries to submit updated NDCs to the UNFCCC by 2020. For the avoidance of doubt, the CAEP which is providing the financial assistance to Nigeria makes it very explicit that resources will be made available only to developing countries that wish to raise the level of ambition in their updated NDCs. So, this is definitely not a free international finance that can be collected by countries that wish to only tweak their NDCs in a marginal way.

There are several good reasons while raising ambition is a desirable objective. For one, IPCC calculations have shown that the combined total of the current NDC commitments by countries is far below what is required to limit global warming to well below 2°C as stated in the Paris Agreement (IPCC 2018).  Also, as the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria has some incentives to provide leadership and help to drive a more ambitious global climate regime. In fact, Nigeria is one of the highest Green House Gas emitting countries in Africa with the nations’ first Biennial Update Report (BUR1) to the UNFCCC, which covers emissions for the period 2000-2015, showing that Nigeria emitted in 2014 around 492 MtCO2e.

Even though the absolute and the per capita emission may be low compared to developed countries, the above number still suggest the need for more ambitious mitigation effort. Another important reason for Nigeria to take ambitious climate change within its shores and encourage other countries to do likewise is because Nigeria is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change the world with massive exposure to heatwaves, sea-level rise, drought among many others. Already in the last few years the country has been witnessing flooding like never before with entire communities in Adamawa, Katsina, Niger, Kano, Bayelsa and many other states being completely submerged and washed away.

However, with all that said, there are also several reasons for well-meaning people to hold the current effort to raise ambition suspect. First, there has not been any detailed analysis and debate on the extent to which the original NDC has been implemented. Without robust data and clear understanding of the effort at mitigation so far, including tonnes of emission reduction achieved since the submission of the first NDC, it is hard to see what the criteria and justification on which the new ambition will be based. Second, the need to raise ambition was a global and national goal established (and correctly so) before the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic which has hit the global economy very hard.

As a country, Nigeria has been hit hard especially given its heavy reliance on oil and gas which accounts for over 40% of GDP and 90% of foreign exchange earnings. With the general economic slowdown, and envisaged financial crisis occasioned by COVID-19, it is valid to ask whether raising ambition is really plausible and necessary for Nigeria. This is more so relevant given that the original NDC makes it clear that the overarching philosophy that underpinned that NDC was to reduce carbon emission while pursing socioeconomic development. Third, it has been noted that the funding of the revision of Nigeria’s NDC by the global NDC Partnership is clearly predicated on a commitment by Nigeria to raise its climate ambition. In the light of such a condition, it is probably valid to question the extent to which the goal of raising ambition is a genuine desire of the government as opposed to something imposed upon the government with the imperative of attracting funding from the global coalition.

In fact, with funding for the initial NDC coming from the French Development Agency, some has questioned how much of the original ambition was dictated by a national desire to scale-up climate action and how much of it was dictated by the desire of France to see a successful outcome of the Paris Agreement.  It is great to see that the new revision process is being managed by a national coordinator who has vast experience of the Nigerian situation.  It is also great to see that serious effort is being made to increase the participation of various groups of stakeholders in the revision of Nigeria’s NDC. The Hon Minister of State for the Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor, deserves special mention and praise for her effort to the engage with the youth, women, state ministries of environment across the country to mobilise their engagement in the NDC and climate action in general.

However, there is real fear that without significant improvement in the data and concomitant effort to monitoring, verification and implementation, the new NDC may end up either being a box ticking exercise that will not have significant implications for Nigeria’s climate action. There is also a danger that in trying to please the international funding body, Nigeria could take on climate target that it has no capacity to implement. Serious effort must therefore be made to establish a national climate registry and improve climate data gathering in Nigeria.

There is need for more transparency on the robustness of the data on which the original NDC was designed, the extent of implementation of the original NDC, the emission reduction achieved (or not) from the key sectors, and the implications for the new ambition intent for the revised NDC.  Such an approach and analysis will need to be cast against the background of the national and global socio-economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic, and need for the new NDC to help stimulate a smart green recovery plan in Nigeria.

By Professor Chukwumerije Okereke

He is the Director of the Centre of Climate Change and Development at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi State, Nigeria. He is currently Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) for the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)

Effects Of Climate Change On My Environment And How Nigeria’s NDCs Can Address It 

By Ngozi Edum

Climate change refers to the significant changes in the global temperature, precipitation, wind pattern, and other measures of climate which occur over several decades, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The vulnerability of North Central to climate change is linked to her reliance on climate-dependent activities such as Agriculture, this activity is climate regulated, so climate change impacts are exacerbated in this region.

 On  26th of July 2020, Abuja recorded its worst flooding, a torrential rainfall which lasted for 6 hours left behind tales of pain as many houses were submerged, bridges collapsed, loss of properties and loss of human lives, flooding is just one out of the many impacts of climate change faced in the North Central, the continuous clash between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers is another example of climate change impact this is due to the struggle for land resources as a result of limited arable land resources, the high rate of deforestation in the North leading to desert encroachment has forced this herders to move down towards the North Central in search of pastures for their cattle, this always result in clashes with loss of lives and properties, this has led to food scarcity as most farmers are not able to engage in farming activities either due to destruction of their farmlands or insecurity, this has adverse impact on both livelihood and socio-economic status of majority of people in the North Central.

    For farmers especially those in farm settlement area in Gwagwalada, a rural community in Abuja, most of their farming activities are carried out close to the river bank, this is because of the proximity to the river as a source of irrigation, the noticeable increase of the water level and most recently the flooding of the river bank which resulted in the washing off of their farmlands left an unforgettable sorrowful experience for them. Also, the loss of forest resources due to the high rate of deforestation has depleted most of the trees species, most households  depend on the charcoal trade as a source of livelihood, this trade results in the loss of forest resources and increases the climate change impact desertification, wind erosion are few of the consequences of this act.

One of Nigeria’s NDC priority sectors is Agriculture and Land use, this sector is of huge importance to Nigeria because more than 70% of the population are involved in Agriculture and agriculture-related activities, there is need to adopt both mitigation and adaptation strategy in dealing with the climate impact experience in this sector, there is need to provide farmers with climate-resilient seed species, this will help them adapt favorably to the challenges of low harvest yield as a result of climate change, there is need to adopt SMART-Agriculture techniques, this involves sets of strategies that provides both mitigation and adaptation approach in solving challenges faced in the Agriculture sector, rather than supply farmers with inorganic fertilizers which also contributes to Green House Gases, the government should encourage the use of organic fertilizers and develop the capacity of farmers through extension education on the impact of climate change to agriculture, the government should also encourage more farmers to engage in Agroforestry; which is a practice of raising both agricultural crops and tree crops, these tree crops will help restore soil fertility and also act as windbreak which will prevent wind erosion and reduce desert encroachment which is faced in the North, there is a need to raise awareness on a switch to other renewable and environmentally friendly fuel for cooking, such as cooking stove and Liquefied Natural Gas, government can partner with private organizations to subsidize these and give out to households where there is a huge dependence on fire wood and charcoal, this will help to reduce deforestation and desertification in these areas.

   Conclusively, looking at Nigeria’s NDC,  reducing our GHGs both directly and indirectly by 65% is an ambitious plan, but there is a need to develop collaboration with stakeholders whose actions or activities contributes to climate change and who are also impacted by the effects of climate change, these stakeholders include farmers and indigenous people who live in rural and marginalized communities, the government most times fail to include these people during policy drafting and when the policy is finally approved, enforcement becomes a problem. To achieve success in the NDC, it is important that everyone is actively involved in all the processes.

Ngozi’s essay emerged the second runner up for the maiden edition of the NDC essay competition organized by the Centre for Climate Change and Development, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike Nigeria in collaboration with World Resources Institute (WRI).

Adekale Idris Adediran

Effect Of Climate Change On My Environment And How Nigeria’S NDCs Can Address It

By Adekale Idris Adediran

Human activities such as burning of fossil fuels overtime, have led to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere. GHG build up in the atmosphere to form a layer that trap heat within the earth’s atmosphere. The trapped heat result in elevated atmospheric temperature and a rise in global mean average temperature. As the atmosphere warms up, ice and glacial sheets in the arctic region melts and the volume of water in seas, oceans and other water bodies rises, resulting in inundation of the terrestrial environment. These climate anomalies result in extreme conditions such as prolonged drought and catastrophic floods, for example.

Floods are one of the most common naturally occurring hazards in Nigeria. The rainy season is undoubtedly not the best time of the year for us – the residents of Ogo-oluwa area of Osogbo, Osun State.  This period comes with its annual problems of flooding, depending on the intensity of the downpour.  In August 2019, properties worth millions of naira were destroyed by flood. This flood was due to the torrential rainfall which occurred for several hours causing the Osun river to overflow its bank, thus affecting houses located along the river bank. Some of the affected people had to flee their homes when they couldn’t prevent the inundation of their houses, with majority returning to homes that were fully submerged. “Dredging has always been done for the past five years by the State Government but this year none was”- reported by some of the victims (Nigerian Tribune, August 2019). Another incident occurred on the 14th of August, 2020 in Baure local government area of the Katsina State where 1,727 households fell victim of the flood. Heavy rainstorm has been predicted by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NMA) to start soon hence, there are still news of impending flood across Ogun and Lagos communities. (Source: The Guardian). On this account, flooding has led to loss of lives and livelihood, properties, infrastructure and mass migration. It has also increased the risk of waterborne diseases. The high cost of relief and recovery may adversely impact investment in other areas of development. Recurrent flooding will also affect long term investments by the government and private sectors. Hence, flooding has negative socioeconomic impacts. The loss of loved ones and properties, displacement from home and stress of overcoming these losses can have a long term effect on the families (Psycho-social effects).

The Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), one of the outcomes of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015, has a framework that is focused on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies. These strategies with little modifications can help in addressing this flooding issues thereby providing long term measures towards building a climate resilient environment. These measures can be subdivided into three;

Predictive measures: The Government should equip the Nigerian Meteorological Agency with the necessary resources required to increase their capacity to anticipate disasters such as heavy rainfall. Also, preparedness and response to flood emergencies should be strengthened at both individual and community level by providing flood emergencies equipment for emergency management agencies.

Preventive measures: This includes providing information to raise awareness that will prevent people from engaging in activities that will increase climate change. People should be educated on the causes of flooding. This awareness can also include development of subjects with environmental based curriculum to empower children in better understanding the environment; reinforcement of programmes that will prevent people from building houses in flood prone areas (e.g. coastal plains); creation of awareness among government staffs so as to reinforce programmes to build and maintain water, wastewater and solid waste management facilities; strengthening disease prevention by intensifying immunization of children and youths against water borne diseases; and establishing early warning and health surveillance programmes.

Corrective measures: Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) should be encouraged to work together with National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). NGOs can serve as intermediaries that will work on flood and livelihood issues. These NGOs will support a number of affected communities.

The main challenge that could be faced in implementing these measures, is cooperation. This can only be achieved if all the stakeholders work together on reinforcing the adaptive capacity and resilience to disasters related to climate change in Nigeria (Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 on Climate Action).  Achieving this goal (SDG 13) will make our environment less vulnerable to the effect of climate change and more adaptable to the unavoidable effects of climate change.

Adekale’s essay is the first runner up for the maiden edition of the NDC essay competition organized by the Centre for Climate Change and Development, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike Nigeria in collaboration with World Resources Institute (WRI).