Sustainable development is defined as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Oftentimes, there is the need to balance the social, economic and environmental factors for sustainable development to be achieved.
As a student of the history of Architecture and the Built Environment in Nigeria, there is a serious cause for concern about the trend our Built Environment is taking when viewed against its sustainability. This calls for urgent concern.
The Nigerian government is a party to all protocols on climate change, starting from the Kyoto, Cancun and Paris Climate Change agreements. We subscribed to agreements to mitigate global warming and adapt and innovate climate-friendly technologies, whilst establishing Green Climate Fund to finance projects, programmes and policies via thematic funding windows. However, our actions and policies on desertification, renewable energy sources, pollution control, land care and management have not lent credence in support of these protocols.
Whilst other countries are trying to reduce their carbon footprint by taking measures to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), by looking for renewable energy sources, we are already piqued with our non-renewable energy sources. Europe, for example, has set a date of 2030 to replace all fossil-fuelled vehicles with electric-fuelled vehicles. There are tons of investments in Green projects, particularly in the areas of Green Energy- wind and solar.
We need to be proactive and pursue with vigour and purpose ways of harnessing our energy from renewable sources. And solar energy is one source we should look at very seriously. Our efforts at desertification should be strengthened by instituting National Tree Planting exercises, not only in arid places but also in every planned settlement in the land.
With the downturn in the economy, the real estate sector seems to be attracting lots of attention as the housing deficit is increasing in an astronomical proportion. The government at both the federal and state levels should embark on massive housing programmes by creating new settlements to accommodate the growing population in a very sustainable manner.
The current trend across the country, particularly in Lagos State, is the emergence of developers, who mainly for economic gains contravene planning regulations by acquiring properties in low and medium density neighbourhoods and redevelop them into high-density apartments. Single-family dwelling units are pulled down to give way to multi-family units. Statutory Greens are not provided and infrastructure is generally overburdened. This phenomenon should be checked and stopped. The planning regulations governing the various classifications of land use should be enforced, regardless of the land cost. Failure to stop this trend may turn all our decent settlements into massive conundrum of urban slums that will exacerbate the climate change challenges.
This is the time to uphold the rule of law in all its ramifications towards the enforcement of planning laws governing our Built Environment.
Our government should also not be reactive but should be proactive by providing the necessary infrastructure for the burgeoning population across the entire nation and leaving a legacy of foresightedness and order for generations yet unborn. This is the time to dwell on sustainability. Tomorrow may be too late.–Onabanjo is the founder of GO-FORTE FOUNDATION, an organisation dedicated to the restoration of the environment.