Analysis of Nigeria Transition to a Green Economy: Risk and Opportunities
in Enhancing Trade and Environmental Stewardship
Omuemu W. Efe
Abstract: Green economy has been linked to sustainable development in developed countries
and will impact positively on Nigeria with supportive national policies and institutions in place.
Thereby stimulate economic diversification, generate employment for the poor, and increase
access of the poor to basic services such as energy, water, housing, education, communications
It was revealed that the over dependent on crude oil had led to ecosystem degradation and a
mono- economy in Nigeria. It was also observed that the Nigeria’s transition to green economy is
critical to improving human well-being, effective utilization and preservation of resources for
both present, future generation and in order for Nigeria to realized the vission2020; the Nigeria
vision of raising her people out of poverty and becoming a member of the G20 by the year 2020.
Furthermore, opportunities associated with green economy outweigh the risks. Green economy
in Nigeria will lead to reduction in the over dependence on crude oil, resolve the issue of power
outages, reduced waste generation, pollution and lead to societal goals of green growth,
sustainable development, social equity, wealth creation, employment generation and poverty
eradication in the long run, with specific policies and legislation enacted by government and the
participation of government, public and private sectors in Nigeria.
Key word: Green economy, transition,
Green Economy could be defined as one that results in improved human wellbeing and social
equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks significantly and ecological scarcities.
That is green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbon, resource efficient and
socially inclusive, (UNEP 2011).
These Green Economy sectors include the following: renewable energy, low-carbon transport,
energy-efficient buildings, clean technologies, improved waste management, improved
freshwater provision, sustainable agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. These investments are
driven by, or supported by national policy reforms and the development of international policy
and market infrastructure.
Also, According to (Manish et al 2011) A Green Economy can be thought of as an alternative
vision for growth and development; one that can generate growth and improvements in people’s
lives in ways consistent with sustainable development. It has been observed that Nigeria is well
positioned in the transition to a green economy given her low-carbon profile and natural
resources endowment. Nigeria is basically characterized by low-levels of carbon emissions and
relatively low investments in polluting technologies. The over dependent on crude oil has
resulted to ecosystem degradation, particularly the pollution and destruction of aquatic lives in
the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria resulting to climate change. Nigeria’s transition to green
economy is critical to improving human well-being, effective utilization and preservation of
resources for both present and future generation. Green economy is pertinent for Nigeria
realization of the Vision 2020; the Nigeria vision of raising her people out of poverty and
becoming a member of the G20 by the year 20201
. This vision can only be achieve, if Nigerian
are gainfully employed in sectors like greening agriculture, water, energy and manufacturing to
drive the vision.
However, green economy does not necessarily mean the complete shift from crude oil and its
related activities to social, economic and environmental activities, such as the use of bio-fuels,
Promote environmentally friendly oil and gas exploration and exploitation methods, thereby minimizing
the environmental degradation of the oil producing areas.
wind and solar energy as alternative sources of energy, it entails converting the methane gas
presently flare in the Niger Delta to coal generation for electricity purposes and liquefied natural
gas for domestic and industrial consumption coupled with the best practices in crude oil
exploration techniques that are eco-friendly and energy efficient.
Furthermore, the present state of the Nigerian economy is characterized by the over reliance on
crude oil. The exploitation and refining is presently done with dirty technology that impacts
negatively on the environment, in order to remedy this situation, the transition to green economy
has become inevitable, as seen in the pictures above. There are risks and opportunities associated
with green economy, this study seek to proffers mitigating strategies and harness the
opportunities that outweigh the risks. Green economy has come to stay globally and in order for
Nigeria not to be left behind in the scheme of things regionally and globally, the needful must be
done now by all stakeholders.
Finally, green economy can reduced the over dependence on crude oil, reduced waste generation,
pollution and lead to societal goals of green growth, sustainable development, social equity, and
poverty reduction in the long run with specific policies and legislation enacted by government
and the participation by government, public and private sectors in Nigeria transition to green
1.1. Statement of Problem
Nigeria’s over-dependence on crude oil had resulted in the neglect of other sectors of the
economy particularly the agricultural sector that was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy in the
1960s to 1980s. The aftermath of crude oil exploitation has impacted negatively on Nigeria’s
economy particularly environment degradation such as acid rain due to gas flaring, destruction of
aquatic life from oil spillage, misappropriation of revenue generated from crude oil sales and
conflict in the Niger Delta Region.
It is against this background that the statement of problem seeks to analyze the impact of
Nigeria’s transition to green economy.
1.2. Research Hypothesis
There is a positive relationship between green economy and sustainable development in Nigeria.
1.3. Significance of Study
Irrespective of government deliberate focus on crude oil sector, the agriculture sector remains the
second major contributor to GDP and the major employment creation in Nigeria. Concerted
effort is required to steer green agriculture, forest (REED+), energy, transport, fisheries and eco -
tourism on a sustainable production and productivity trajectory.
The significance of this study is to provide an environmentally friendly alternative for Nigeria’s
transition from a mono economy to a diversified green economy for effective and efficient use of
resources by present and future generation for sustainable development.
Recommend and suggest findings to policy makers or stakeholder on ways of the overall need
for the transition of Nigeria to green economy.
1.4. Research Objective
To analyze the risk and opportunities of Nigeria’s transition to green economy.
1.5. Limitations of Study
The research methodology and findings were not without shortcomings, which includes data
sources and time constraint to source materials.
Findings may deviate from through representation due to data sources.
2.0. LITERATURE REVIEW
Green economy has been linked to sustainable development in developed countries and will
impact positively on less developed countries. With supportive national policies and institutions
in place, trade opportunities offered by a global green economy can enhance economic growth
and contribute significantly to national environmental and developmental objectives. This green
growth should be inclusive; building developing countries’ human and productive capacities to
enable them to participate in a global green economy and thereby stimulate economic
diversification, generate employment for the poor, and increase access of the poor to basic
services such as energy, water, housing, education, communications and transport(UNCTA
The transformation to a green economy could generate 15 to 60 million additional jobs globally
over the next two decades and lift tens of millions of workers out of poverty according to a new
report by the green jobs initiative (http://www.ilo.org/global
The oil and gas sector in Nigerian is in a dialectic state. Nigeria holds large reserves of a
depleting resource that will expire or substantially decline in the next 15-20 years for oil and
some 70 years for gas. Energy supply from fossil fuels results in climate changes, which need to
be urgently addressed through adaptation and mitigating strategies. These strategies should be
aligned with the transition to a green economy; there is a need for a paradigm shift and
diversifying the economic base towards sustainable renewable sources. A green economy is our
overarching goal with improved human well-being and social equity, reducing environmental
risks and ecological scarcities (The Transformation from Fossil Fuel to Green Energy.-
From the aforementioned, it is therefore crucial for Nigeria to begin the transformation to green
economy, particularly in the alternate sources of energy, green forest (REED+), energy,
transport, fisheries and eco – tourism for sustainable development and green growth. .
Data was obtained from secondary sources such as database of UNEP, World Bank, WTO,
Central bank and Ministry of Environment of Nigeria. Based on the objective of this study,
qualitative method of analysis was used to describe Nigeria Transition to Green Economy: Risk
and Opportunity in Enhancing Trade and Environmental Stewardship in conformity with the
three pillars of sustainable development, which are: economic, social and environment.
4.0. OBSERVATION AND DISCUSION
It has been observed that there are risks associated with green economy from the review of
different literatures, but the gains or opportunities outweigh this risk. Opportunities entails the
creation of green jobs, poverty eradication, conservation of the environment, efficient use of
energy and resources for present and future generation with the aim of sustainable development
and green growth. Also green economy has become a rather controversial term because it has
become the subject of a multilateral negotiating process, within the Rio-Plus-20 framework2
Empirical evidences revealed that green economy has impacted positively on economies.
According to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), in 2010,
the global organic market increased to US$ 59 billion. While 80 per cent of organic producers
are located in developing countries, 97 per cent of the consumption is in developed countries,
creating substantial export opportunities. In particular, demand is increasing for high-value and
value-added organic products such as juices, semi-processed vegetables, textiles, coffee and
spices. Sustainably produced goods often command high price premiums, resulting in higher
incomes for farmers and others in the supply chain. Some countries in East Africa, for example,
are already benefiting from the increasing export opportunities in sustainable agriculture. Uganda
is currently the largest African exporter of organic products with an export value of US$ 42
million in 2010 (IFOAM 2010).
The “green economy” is not a concept that has yet to enjoy widespread agreement (among economists or
environmentalists) or an international consensus. A “green economy” gives the impression of an economy
that is environmentally-friendly, sensitive to the need to conserve natural resources, minimizes pollution
and emissions that damage the environment in the production process of goods, services, the existence
and consumption of which do not harm the environment.
Resolution adopted by the General Assembly [without reference to a Main Committee (A/66/L.56)]
66/288. The future we want.
4.1. Risks of engaging in Green Economy
The risks associated with the transition to green economy include the following:
i. Green Economy as Trade Barrier:
Green economy can be inappropriately used by countries for trade protectionist purposes, and
developed countries may use this as trade barrier to justify unilateral trade measures against the
products of developing countries. A good example is the proposals or plans to impose a “carbon
tariff” or “border adjustment tax” on products on the grounds that generated emissions of carbon
dioxide during the production process above a certain level, or that the exporting country does
not have emission controls of a standard deemed adequate by the importing country.
ii. Attempt to gain market access through the guise of environment:
Environment is misused as a disguised method by countries to promote the access of their goods
and services into markets of other countries. There is the perception or fear by developing
countries that the Green Economy concept could be used as a front for mercantilist interests. This
was expressed by developing countries at WTO that some developed countries have been
attempting to get them to eliminate the tariffs of many of their goods that the proponents claim
are “environmental goods.” This follows a mandate in the Doha negotiations to reduce or
eliminate barriers to environmental goods and services.
iii. One sided Approach of Transition to Green Economy:
One side approach is taken, in which all countries are treated in the same manner. This would
result to failures either for environment, development or both. There are disparities in the levels
and stages of development of countries particularly less developing countries and as such less
develop countries should be treated differently.
4.2. Opportunities of Green Economy
The opportunities include the following:
i. Green Agriculture:
Sustainable agricultural production has long been recognized and promoted as a system that
encourages trade opportunities and is linked to the creation of rural employment, income
generation, food security, long-term environmental security. Nigeria is well-placed to seize these
trade opportunities because of her strong comparative advantage in green agricultural products
due to suitable climatic conditions and rich biodiversity.
ii. Green water:
The access to clean, portable and adequate sanitation services is critical to the future of every
household, to food production, energy generation, industrial production and the ecosystem.
The greatest opportunities for Nigeria would be the rapid transformation to green economy by
investing in the provision of water and sanitation services to improve the lives of Nigerians.
iii. Green Energy:
Energy has become a major concern to a lot of Nigerians, particularly in the private sector;
energy security resulting from renewable energy such as wind, solar and natural gas will serve as
a catalyst for transforming the manufacturing and other key sectors of the Nigerian economy,
making the greening of the energy sector imperative3
. For instant bio-fuel that entails the
generation of energy from the decomposition of organic materials would help reduced the
damage done to the environment via oil exploration. This sector would not only assist Nigeria in
the preservation and conservation of the environment particularly in the Niger Delta region, it
will also help to resolve the frequent power outages in Nigeria by converting the methane gas
flare in the Niger Delta region into clean coal for energy generation.
iv. Greening the fisheries sector: An analysis by UNEP revealed that global marine fisheries
are underperforming both in economic and social terms.
The impact of ocean fish populations to the global economy can only be achieved by greening
the fisheries sector in terms of rebuilding the depleted stocks and implementing effective
management that will result to increase in the overall marine fisheries catch. Nigeria is well
position in this sector and will result in employment and wealth creation.
The existing challenges are exacerbated by the expected growth in the global demand for energy, as
population and incomes rise. Shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy plays a critical role in
greening the energy sector, along with other changes, in particular raising energy efficiency (Ton van
Dril, Raouf Saidi and Xander van Tilburg, Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) and Derek
v. Green Forest:
Forests can thus be regarded as critical links in the transition to a green economy since they
promotes sustainable development and poverty eradication, (FAO 2005b).
By promoting green forests, ecosystems are supported and shelter, notwithstanding the food, the
additional provision of jobs, water, and medicine to humans as well as regulate the global
climate by program such as REED+.
REED+ is the reduction in emission from deforestation; it is an effort to create a financial value
for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emission
from forest lands and invest in low- carbon paths to sustainable development4
vii. Green Supply Chain and Supply Chain Management:
This entails planning with demand management and improved forecasting to minimize over-
purchasing, over-production and waste, in manufacturing; the need to learn process improvement
for over-processing reduction, energy intensity storage to distribution of eco-friendly goods and
waste. The aforementioned will in the long run lead to gainful employment, wealth creation,
poverty eradication, sustainable and economic development in these sectors and substantially
increase trade between Nigeria and other countries at the regional and international level.
5.0. SUMMARY, RECOMMENDATION AND CONCLUSION
. REED+ goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation,
sustainable management of forests and enhancement of the forest carbon stocks.
UN-REED Programme, (www.un-reed.org)
The main objective of this study was to analyze the risk and opportunities of Nigeria’s transition
to green economy couple with environmental stewardship.
The study highlights some risk and opportunities of Nigeria transition to a green economy.
The relative peace in the region is seen as a catalyst for economic diversification and market
access by Nigeria government. It was revealed that the over dependent on crude oil had led to
ecosystem degradation and a mono- economy in Nigeria.
It was also observed that the Nigeria’s transition to green economy is critical to improving
human well-being, effective utilization and preservation of resources for both present, future
generation and in order for Nigeria to realized the vission2020; the Nigeria vision of raising her
people out of poverty and becoming a member of the G20 by the year 2020.
Finally, the opportunities associated with green economy outweigh the risks. Green economy in
Nigeria will lead to reduction in the over dependence on crude oil, reduced waste generation,
pollution and lead to societal goals of green growth, sustainable development, social equity,
wealth creation, employment generation and poverty eradication in the long run, with specific
policies and legislation enacted by government and the participation of government, public and
private sectors in Nigeria, the transition to green economy will impact positively on the
environment as well.
It is therefore, recommended that a holistic approach should be adopted in this transition with
attention paid to key sectors like agriculture, energy, water and fisheries sector.
Agriculture: This sector if transform to green agriculture, particularly the production of
bio-fuels would have ripple effects on the entire economy, there will be a reduction in the
production of crude oil with dirty technology.
Energy: The energy sector in Nigeria will drive development in all sector of the
economy, particularly the manufacturing sectors. With the use of solar, wind and natural
gas will impact positively on the environment in Nigerian.
Water Sector: Greening the energy sector with result to a cleaner water ways and
protection of human, aquatic lives and the ecosystem.
Finally, mitigation strategies against the risks such as barriers to trade should be addressed at regional and
global level, competitive industries transition should be done on a gradual process. While National
Environmental Management Agency of Nigeria (NEMA) should be enhanced with modern technology,
industries should be made to pay severe penalty for any activities against environmental laws and Green
Economy policy or legislature should be enacted by Nigeria government.
Conclusively, green economy can address major issues like carbon emissions, gas flaring in the
oil rich Niger Delta and serve a catalyst for income generation and job creation, reduced the over
dependence on crude oil, waste management, pollution and lead to societal goals of growth ,
sustainable development, social equity, and poverty reduction.
In order to achieve this, specific policies and legislation should be enacted couple with the
participations of government, private and institutions for an effective transition of Nigeria to
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