Sunday 31st May 2020
Sunday, 31st of May 2020
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Pathways to urban sustainability in Nigeria

It is estimated that by 2020 half of Nigerians shall live in urban centres. Nigeria has scores of such centres, with many showing the tendency of becoming megacities in a no distant future.

traffic congestion  Pathways to urban sustainability in Nigeria Lagos Traffic
Traffic congestion in Lagos

One of these cities, Lagos (considered to be a megacity), shall by projection have a population of 24 million persons by 2020. Whereas the former cities have adopted robust sustainability principles in their architecture and urban design/regeneration as well as efficient urban management programmes, the latter appear to be partially, or totally non-committal, says Ajah Obia 

About half of the total global energy consumption comes from buildings. Eco-design prescriptions of the architect would guarantee urban sustainability. Cities are living environments that are constantly changing, shifting, and growing over time. By 2050 close to 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. The physical, social/cultural, political, and ecological dynamics of a city differ all over the world. Due to these differing dynamics, solutions to challenges need to be applied at the local level where the individual dynamics can be understood and sustainably addressed.

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Most city environments can be characterised by heavy resource depletion, high emissions and pollutants, and high population densities. This constitutes a real challenge regarding reducing the pressures on the environment and society. Cities can face a variety of issues, such as flooding, poor waste management, high air pollution, improper heat management, extreme weather events, low food production, and minimal green space.


Cities offer numerous opportunities for the application of nature-based solutions. Such solutions can offer cities risk management and resiliency, climate change adaptation, improvements of degraded ecosystems, and sustainable urbanisation.

Through the integration of natural solutions into urban planning and design, improvements can be made to the overall health and well-being of citizens, as well as obtaining ecological and economic benefits.

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The Green Culture

  • For cities to be green, they must participate in innovation – iterating on solving urban problems.
  • For cities to be green, they must participate in agriculture – feeding people and building communities where we have a visible relationship with our food.
  • For cities to be green, they must participate in social change – creating local decision structures and diversifying power.
  • For cities to be green, they must participate in production – making the things people need and desire.

The major problem with Nigerian cities, just like most third world cities, is the absence of sustainable master plans that will guarantee the continued survival of these cities in the face of complex economic, social and environmental issues. Sustainability is a concept that is not yet embraced by the authorities in Nigeria. Nor are the citizens aware of its existence, content and relevance. The above green culture should be adopted to build a sustainable pathway for our cities.

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By Olumide Idowu (@OlumideIDOWU; Co-Founder, ICCDI Africa)


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