Chuks Okereke

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Nigeria, like many other African countries, is fast recognizing the advantages of a green economy that generates growth and improvements in people’s lives while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. There are several policy documents, and initiatives indicate a willingness to pursue their development goals in ways that leverage the opportunities for green economy transition.

Nigeria’s long-term development blueprint, Vision 2020, intends that by 2020, the country will have a strong, diversified, sustainable and competitive economy that effectively harnesses the talents and energies of its people and responsibly exploits its natural endowments to guarantee a high standard of living and quality of life to its citizens. Following the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Nigeria has submitted a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which commits the country to 45% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The policies and measures aimed at delivering this reduction include improving energy efficiency, forest conservation, rural electrification, and putting an end to gas flaring. There is also an ambitious commitment to achieve 35,500 MW of energy by 2030 from renewable energy sources.

However, despite all these laudable goals, huge gaps exist in the form of the capacity and skills needed to realise these stated ambitions and commitments. Indeed many scholars and practitioners have identified lack of or limited capacity as one of the critical barriers hindering the transition to green growth in Africa.

As a measure to kick-start a more systematic identification of existing and additional capacities to achieve Nigeria’s green growth aspirations, the University of Reading, UK under the Global Challenges Research Fund, sponsored a highly interactive consultative workshop titled “Capacity Gap Assessment for Green Economy Transition in Africa: Case Study of Nigeria.” The project leader was Chukwumerije Okereke, Professor of Environment and Development at the Department of Geography and Environmental Science and Associate Director of Reading University Centre on Climate and Justice. The workshop which held at Federal Capacity Territory in Abuja Sandralia Hotel in Abuja and drew a total of 53 technical officers from public and private sectors, and civil societies. Representatives from the donor community such as the European Union and GIZ were also in attendance. The Nigerian workshop was the second of this kind of workshop, the first having been held in Nairobi Kenya on March 12, 2018.

The workshop in Nigeria created an avenue for a structured reflection and group discussion over the historical and current green growth policy making and low carbon projects implementation with a focus on human and technical capacity. The focus was on six sectors including Agriculture, Transport, Forestry, Energy, Industry, and Sustainable Cities.

At the workshop, participants agreed that Nigeria’s economy development pathways were undergoing rapid modifications in line with the global commitment to low carbon development. It was however also noted that Nigeria’s ability to maximally benefit from the opportunities offered by green growth is being constrained by limited by capacity gaps at institutional, organisational and individual levels. Some of the critical gaps identified during the workshop relate to policy formulation, stakeholder engagement, emission accounting, financial management, mainstreaming, mini-grid design, energy auditing, impact assessment, solar PVC installation, and monitoring and evaluation.

Some of the key barriers identified include weak legal and policy frameworks, institutional fragmentation, lack of policy continuity, and low private sector participation.

Participants stressed the need for a much more comprehensive green capacity auditing followed with clear targets, an ambitious programme with adequate incentives to close the gaps. The need for stronger partnership between academia, the government and private sectors in the pursuit of green innovation was also stressed. As green skills deployed to undertake green jobs is a critical plank in the green growth transition, it was emphasised that Nigeria should aim to create “an army” of green workers proficient in the wide-ranging set of skills needed to enable the country meet its target of attaining a sustainable economic vision.

Professor Chuks Okereke, the leader of the project, says:

“I am delighted that my project has contributed to exposing the need for capacity building for green growth transition in Nigeria and Africa more broadly. It is clear that a lot more work is needed to undertake a more dedicated and comprehensive capacity gap assessment. My team is developing a template which we hope will help Nigeria and other African governments to understand a systematic capacity assessment for green growth transition. We are working towards making the template available in the next three months.”

The Director of Climate Change Federal Ministry of Environment, Dr Peter Tarfa says:

“I thank Professor Chuks Okereke and the University of Reading for funding this very timely workshop on capacity gap assessment for green growth in Nigeria. The Federal government has demonstrated a very strong commitment to tacking climate change and pursing the green economy. The government submitted an ambitious NDC and has also embarked on a very successful green bond initiative to raise money for green projects in Nigeria. Government is keen to work with the academia and private sector to make the green economy a success in Nigeria. I very much look forward to receiving and working with the capacity gap analysis template that is being produced by Professor Okereke and his team.”

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Researchers from the University of Reading in the UK held a fruitful and stimulating workshop on “capacity needs assessment for green economy transition in Africa” at Nairobi Kenya on March 12, 2018.

The workshop which held in the Hilton hotel was attended by academics from the University of Nairobi and technical officers from public and private sectors, as well as civil societies organizations that are involved in planning and implementing green growth initiatives in Kenya. The workshop was funded by the University of Reading UK under the Global Research Strategic Fund. The Project is led by Professor Chukwumerije Okereke who is from the Department of Geography and Environmental Science and Associate Director of Reading University Center for Climate and Justice with contributions from Scientists from Oxford Brookes University and African Technology Policy Studies in Nairobi.

The workshop featured presentations, survey questionnaire completion, focus groups and structured reflection over green growth policymaking and implementation in Kenya with a focus on human and technical capacity.

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and African Agenda 2063 in 2015 by African Governments had come against a backdrop of rising economy in many African countries. However, despite notable gains in recent years, economic growth has not translated into reduction in poverty and inequality.  At the same time, it is widely recognized that the current reliance on finite natural resource extraction to power African economic development is unsustainable in the long run.  Moreover, Africa’s economic development is being hampered by climate change with its negative impact on food production and extra cost imposed on infrastructural development.  Hence business-as-usual models of growth is no longer a viable option for Africa in the face of growing environmental scarcities, economic uncertainty, and widespread poverty.

Green growth is a recent global phenomenon and much-lauded pathway for achieving economic transformation, climate resilience, and inclusive, sustainable development.  Green growth is a relatively new approach for policymakers and businesses in Africa. While there are a few notable promising steps, African countries are mostly yet to understand and exploit the various opportunities for developing the green economy across the scale from national, through the regional level.  Scholars and policymakers alike have regularly asserted that lack of or limited capacity is a significant barrier hindering the transition to green growth in Kenya and Africa more broadly.  However, there is insufficient understanding of the range of skills (both indigenous and external) that is needed to achieve green economy transition in Africa.

For example, Kenya’s long-term development blueprint, Vision 2030, seeks to transform the country into an industrializing, middle-income country that offers a high quality of life to all people in a clean and secure environment by 2030. Kenya aims to increase annual GDP growth rates to 10% and to maintain that average till 2030.  Key programs include the massive development of solar, geothermal energy, increased mechanization of agriculture, green industrialization and innovation, and better monitoring of forests to enhance biological conversation and diversity.   However, like most other African countries there is limited capacity to transform this grand visions into reality.

A principal rationale for the workshop is that a critical condition for improving capacity is to generate a clear and robust framework that can help policymakers and other stakeholders to assess their capacity needs systematically. In the workshop, the participants were presented with an analytical framework for green growth transition which is being developed by Professor Okereke and his research team.  The analytical framework which is adapted from the UNDP’s generic model identifies five functional capacity areas needed for green growth transitioning in Africa and more broadly. These include strategy and policy formulation, project design and implementation, stakeholder engagement, financial management, and monitoring and evaluation.

Participants were invited to rank the capacity strengths and needs of their sectors based on the above five functional capacity areas. Their rankings were subsequently discussed alongside in-depth deliberation on what can be done to accelerate capacity building and mobilization for green transitioning in Africa.

A similar workshop is planned in Abuja Nigeria on March 26 after which the results will be collated and published in a short report.  It is hoped that the project will result in the development of a green capacity template that will improve national green capacity auditing and assessment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Okereke says, “I am very thankful to the University of Reading or funding this project. I am very much looking forward to the forthcoming workshop in Nigeria. I am very hopeful that the project will contribute to an understanding of steps that are needed to help accelerate capacity development for green transiting in Africa.”

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Dr Chuks Okereke has had a flurry of good news recently, with recognition for the excellence of his research and confirmation of his impressive international reputation.

The United Nations opens the UN Climate Summit 2014 September 23, 2014 at the United Nations in New York.

Chuks explains, “The focus of my research is to explore how societies can best respond to climate change, which is now generally accepted as arguably one of the greatest challenges facing humankind. While recognizing the importance of science and technology in combating climate change, my research emphasises the social, ethical and political dimensions of climate governance. I am interested in understanding the climate strategies of various stakeholders (such as governments, businesses, cities and civil society organizations) and how these either enhance or inhibit the prospects for societal transformation in the response to climate change.

Moreover, because of huge asymmetries in both contributions to and impact of climate change across countries, my research explores options for combining climate governance with the reduction of global poverty and inequality. I guess it is the topicality of my research and the chances for real life impact that make the work I do so very interesting to both academics and practitioners.”

Climate Strategies Membership 

UN Climate Summit 2014 Photo credit: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

UN Climate Summit 2014
Photo credit: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Chuks has recently been invited to join “Climate Strategies”, the most prestigious research organisation and network on climate policy in Europe.  The main focus of the group is to set, in collaboration with EU Commission and UK Research Councils, the long term agenda for research on EU and global climate policy.

Award Nomination

Chuks’ co-authored book Carbon governance, climate change and business transformation (Oxford: Routledge, 2015) has been nominated for an award by the British Sociological Association (BSA) as one of the three works that have extended “The frontiers of sociological climate change research”.

Funding for new project

Chuks has recently won funding from CDKN (DFID) for the project “Interactions between Industrial Policy and Green Economy in Africa“. The project is led by Professor Yacob Mulugetta at UCL . Chuks is a central partner and leader of the work package on ‘governance and political economy’. Other partners include the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (Ethiopia) and Quantum Global Research Lab (Switzerland).

The research period began in February and is planned to continue through to November 2016, with the total funding of the project over £370k.

 

Congratulations to Chuks on the exciting recognition! You can read more about his current projects and teaching at his staff profile.

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Professor Emily Boyd and Dr Chuks Okereke have contributed chapters to a new book, ‘Successful Adaption to Climate Change – Linking Science and Policy in a Rapidly Changing World’ which has been awarded ‘Outstanding Academic Title of 2014’ by Choice Review.
The Award
Choice Review: Outstanding Academic Title of 2014 Successful Adaptation to Climate Change Linking Science and Policy in a Rapidly Changing World, Routledge edited by Susanne C. Moser and Maxwell T Boykoff.  The Choice Review identifies the best scholarly titles and abstracts, in 2014 featuring 690 titles in 54 disciplines and subsections. Emily Boyd is lead author on Chapter 12 ‘Building Climate Resilience: Lessons of Early Warning in Africa’. Chuks Okereke is co-author on Chapter 5 ‘REDD+ and Social Justice: Adaptation by Way of Mitigation?’
The Book
The book Successful Adaptation is described as follows: “This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking volume, with surprising insights. Of the many books on climate change, this one really hits on the essentials of “What are we going to do about it?” and “Why haven’t we done anything yet?” It focuses primarily on issues in the social science arena, addressing adaption to climate change and how societies and policy makers are wrestling with what to do about ecological issues, but also the societal hurdles and reasons why, for the foreseeable future, not much is probably going to happen. The compendium of articles covers such topics as social justice and adaption, trade-offs in maintaining (or not maintaining) biodiversity, media representations of climate adaptation, risk reduction, baseline assessment, and what some societies and countries are already doing to adapt to a changing climate. This work will make readers think and realize that although addressing climate change is complicated, achieving workable solutions is even more complicated. Well-written and engaging reading for both social and physical scientists working on or interested in climate change or associated issues. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals/practitioners; general audiences. –B. Ransom, formerly, University of California, San Diego
 

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“If equity is in, we are out”. Those were the words of Todd Stern, the Chief climate negotiator of the United States on the eve of the last day of the UN Climate conference in Durban, South Africa in 2011.

In a room filled with high level officials from different countries desperately trying to agree the final text of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) – the document that was going to form the basis for the negotiation of a new long- term agreement that will replace the Kyoto Protocol – Mr Stern declared that the United States will not be party to any global climate negotiation process which attempts to make equity and justice central pillars of an envisaged agreement. He was reacting to the clamour from developing countries that the decision text establishing  the ADP, should prominently recognise the equity principle of common but differentiated responsibility and capability (CBDR) which basically implies that  developed countries, in keeping with their historical responsibility for climate change and their enhanced technological capabilities, should take the lead in making emission cuts. Developing countries further tend to rely on CBDR to ask to financial and technology transfer from the developed countries.

In Mr Stern’s view, however, developing countries insistence on climate justice was a clog in the wheel of the UN climate talks.  He went to say that as far as he (and presumably the US) was concerned, the global climate agreement was not about morality but about numbers and maths – whatever that means.

While some observers were alarmed by Mr Stern’s position, his words were in fact a fair, if vulgar, rendition of the mind-set that is quite pervasive among developed countries. Rich nations tend to prefer to wave aside or at least make light their moral responsibility in tackling climate change, while appealing for concerted action by ‘all parties’. “Pragmatism”, “realism’, and “we are in this together” are some of the other phrases used by developed countries as they try to duck their responsibility and cajole developing countries to instead step up their own climate actions. It was to this effect that many Western countries lined up behind the US in Durban.  Eventually all references to equity, justice and common but differentiated responsibility were expunged from the text.

UN-CLIMATE SUMMIT 2014

The United Nations opens the UN Climate Summit 2014 September 23, 2014 at the United Nations in New York.

It has been a short-lived victory.  Events in the UN climate talks in Lima over the last two weeks have overwhelming demonstrated the utter futility of developed countries’ schemes to diminish issues of equity and justice, let alone sidestep them altogether.  In virtually all the key issues and categories under discussion – countries’ mitigation contributions, states’ adaptation commitments, the remit of the loss and damage, and climate finance, among others – equity and differentiation have stood out as sticking points.

Attempts, led to Russia, to amend the original UNFCCC Convention which groups states into developed and developing countries, with the latter largely exempted from quantified legally binding emission reduction obligations, were sternly rebuffed by China.  The G77 group of developing nations took a principled stance in all their submissions that the principle of equity must guide all negotiations and long-term actions. Showing their heightened distrust in the progress, developing countries even requested that texts should be displayed on the big screen in real time while negotiating to enhance transparency.

The harshest word for developed countries, however, came from the President of Bolivia, who referred to industrialized nations that have appropriated more than their own fair share of global atmospheric space as ‘thieves’ that must be made to pay back what they have stolen.

All of this is neither to suggest that developing countries should be given an easy ride in negotiating the 2015 climate agreement, nor that there are easy approaches to a finding a ‘just’ climate agreement.  Climate change is indeed an urgent problem which requires the most extensive and ambitious co-operation from states to bring it under control and justice is a deeply contested concept open to multiple interpretations recommending diverse, sometimes conflicting, policy.  However, what is beyond doubt is that international politics is not beyond the pale of morality as the likes of Todd Stern would like to claim.

Climate change has thrown up very complex and unprecedented moral questions for the international community. Only a concerted and mutually respectful approach to bargaining by states can offer the best prospect for finding an equitable and effective agreement.

If Lima has taught us anything, it is that humanity badly needs a dose of respect between nations if we are to avoid climate chaos. The brazen scheme to expunge equity from previous climate agreements by the US and her backers has only served to further erode the mutual trust sorely needed to make compromises.

Morality might be a dirty word in some states’ foreign policy handbooks. But call it what you like. The world needs to find its guiding principles quickly, and developing countries want rich nations to pay for what they’ve broken.

About today’s blogger:

ChukwumerijeOkereke_1601_wDr Chukwumerije Okereke is a global climate policy specialist and jointly leads the new Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships Programme on Climate Justice: Ethics, Politics, Law at the University of Reading. 

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