By Adile Iroajugh

God’s original intention for man at creation was for man to live in a garden. The biblical first man, Adam, first home was a garden, ‘The Garden Of Eden’.  Though he was later sent out of the garden but God’s original intention stands. The proof is man’s constant admiration and value for gardens. But contrary to our admirations for and perceive values for gardens, we are either too busy to plant or to lazy and unconcerned sustain a garden. Worst still, we are too quick to jeopardize efforts and passionate commitments to return our communities to God’s original intention for man.

Example of such efforts and commitment in recent times is the Lagos Park and Garden Agency (LASPARK). LASPARK is a city greening agency under the Lagos State Ministry of Environment. The agency currently drives the greening initiatives of the Lagos State Government. The city greening initiative was conceived by the Lagos State Government not just to beautify the environment but as a deliberate effort to mitigate the negative effects of climatic change, protect our future and save the environment. I came in close contact with the agency, Managing Director, Dr (Mrs) Titi Anibaba in October 2015. Before meeting Dr. Anibaba, I pride myself as a great advocate of a sustainable environment, but all that changes when I meet this great Amazon of a sustainable environment and she share her visions and commitment to return the Lagos metropolis to is God original intention with me.

Without sounding like a mouth of the government, I commend the LASPARK for success so far recorded in the ‘Green Lagos Project’. Especially when we recall that Lagos was the only city in Nigeria that was mentioned in the Last World and African Green City Index. We may not be commending the agency for grand success in the execution of the city greening initiative, but we sure must commend the agency’s leadership and indeed the government for their commitment in sustaining the greening initiative. But a quick survey has shown that a major setback to the project implementation is getting grassroots supports for the project implementation. I would recommend increase stakeholder’s advocacy to communicate the benefits of the project to the grassroots people. The sustainability of the initiative lies in getting the beneficiaries to accept and drive future implementation.

Beyond the government funding of the green Lagos initiative, I recently started comparing the social and economic benefits of greening our immediate environment and the enormous benefits other key stakeholder’s involvement in driving the initiative. It is time we increase corporate sustainability efforts and the city greening initiative provide great opportunity for corporation to demonstrate their corporate sustainability commitment. Like every other contemporary issues of great important, Mr Ban Ki Moon the UN Secretary General observed that – Corporate Sustainability is an idea whose time has come. It is assuring that business is able and willing to lead the way in transforming our society for better. Today, genuine corporate sustainability efforts call for increase in green investment and low carbon technologies. The ‘green concept’ is becoming important means to achieve what sustainable development ultimately aimed at: the wellbeing of people while respecting the environment.

The Lagos bold roadmap on both Green Investment and Low Carbon Technology must be commended. We must commend this bold commitment; we also commend what other key stakeholders are doing in their boardrooms and in the investment to support the initiative. We must collectively accept the city greening challenge now, and passionately scale up effort to extend it to other states to save our environment. We owe ourselves and indeed Nigeria a duty to be a part of the initiative. We must ensure no tree is cut down without life threatening reasons. This is because trees improve our physical and psychological health, strengthen our communities, and make our cities and neighbourhoods more attractive places to live and work.

For the green revolution to become a reality in Nigeria, our complex and multifaceted challenges must be holistic revamped, both national and states ministries of environment must be man by people passionate about the environment. Also an in-depth rethinking of development in all its dimensions is imperative, we must learn to measure development beyond GDP. I believe it is time for all of us to act together in the spirit of the share vision of the future we want.  In doing so, we must always recall the Confucian saying, “If one undertakes right things voluntarily, how can others not follow.” We must all work together to forge the path to greener future we want. And I truly believe that if make personal commitment to start from the places we live, we will reap the fruits of the new green nation in one generation. Most of us may feel we can do anything; after all we don’t have space to plant a garden or a tree. The most important thing we all can do is to try wherever possible to engage people to support the greening initiative. Whatever we can do today is so much better than what we do tomorrow.  Together we can be the difference between today and our future. The future needs green economies. The future needs green societies. The green initiative needs your supports.

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