UNILAG Hosts First Ever Virtual Research Conference, Makes Recommendations for Environmental Sustainability and Economic Development

On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, the University of Lagos hosted its first ever Virtual Research Conference, the 15th in the series of Annual  Research Conferences and Fairs.

Held at the Arthur Mbanefo Digital Resource Centre, over 400 participants from the academia and industry, all around the world, attended the conference, leveraging on the blended (online and onsite) nature of the event. Via Zoom, a total of 12 Oral Presentations and 150 Poster Presentations were made at the research conference.

In his opening remarks, the Chief Host and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, FAS, commended the choice of the theme, “Saving the Earth”, averring that it could not have come at a better time. Considering the multidimensional nature of the challenges that confront the world today, on account of the threats of climate change and global warming, Professor Ogundipe charged the participants “ to make the most of the opportunity, bearing in mind that history beckons on you to make timely and seminal contributions to the global quest to Save the Earth.”

Former Minister of Industry of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and past President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Chief (Dr) Mrs Nike Akande, OON,CON, delivered the Keynote Address. She drew upon her rich experience in manufacturing to advocate for a digital orientation that will decentralize manufacturing and make the process more customizable. She advocated that such orientation would make manufacturing more eco-friendly and aiding of environmental sustainability.

Dr. Reuben Bamidele, the National Programme Officer of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) also delivered a paper at the plenary session.

The Conference made observations that the environment is principally the basic, essential system that sustains the existence of all life forms on planet earth. Climate change is the biggest environmental threat to global sustainable development, and that the natural atmosphere is now being polluted due to man-made and natural factors. In Nigeria, climate change poses severe risks to food security and national development, with expected brutal impacts on the economy, considering the strategic importance of agriculture to employment and economic output. Practices such as deforestation, as well as agricultural/infrastructural development, alter land cover and can also compromise the hydrological balance of the natural environment.

Flowing from the observations, the Conference then recommended that :

  • Governments need to enact and implement policies to drastically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Businesses have to realize that a carbon-constrained future is imminent and they have to embed into their strategies the needed protocols to mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • Farmers globally, especially those in developing economies like Nigeria, need to adopt sustainable land management practices, such as Agroforestry, where trees are integrated with crops, animals, or both  to provide shade and natural fertilisation combined with agriculture methods.
  • Nigeria needs to quickly move away from dependence on fossil fuel to embrace more environmentally-friendly renewable energies such as solar, wind, biomass and geothermal.
  • There must be a paradigm shift in the way innovations are done. It is necessary for engineering students to be taught bio-mimicry in engineering design, so that their products and services will not be inimical to the earth.
  • Policies and programmes should be adequately strengthened to address the challenges facing vocational and technical education in Nigeria.
  • Institutions and the policy formulation process should be strengthened to enhance effective policy implementation and fast-track economic growth and diversification in Nigeria.
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