Founder and project director of Nature Cares (a non-profit organisation), Toyin Oshaniwa provides a perspective on the challenges of sustainable development in emerging economies and the importance of spanning boundaries through programmes, such as the International Leadership Training (ILT), a fellowship which he recently benefited
Could you describe the current situation in Nigeria with regard to sustainable development?
The concept of sustainability has become a driving force for national development in Nigeria by focusing more on understanding and mainstreaming environmental sustainability in national challenges such as electricity and energy demand, water demand, infrastructural development and good governance. In every debate, seminar, training and summit I have attended in my home country, the term ‘sustainability’ has been used in so many diverse ways without fully understanding and integrating the basic pillars of sustainability. However, this appears to be changing over time. Recent examples of events and meetings on the subject of sustainability in Nigeria include: Promoting Energy Efficiency for National Development and Environmental Sustainability, Sustainable Sanitation System for Lagos State Economy Growth and the introduction of “Environmental Sustainability” by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The latter event organised by the CBN was a move that aims at preventing loans to businesses that destroy ecosystems, including oil companies not meeting environmental standards. The new leading principle aims at raising awareness for environmental protection, social well- being and economic prosperity.
How have you been able to span your own personal boundaries through the ILT programme over the past year?
The GIZ International Leadership Training (ILT) Fellowship on Sustainability Management gave me a broad and comprehensive view on the concept of sustainability as related to global challenges. As a social developer in the NGO sector focusing more on the role of environmental education in national development, the ILT has enlarged my professional work life boundaries with information and promising practices of mainstreaming sustainability management through collaboration between NGOs, businesses, and governments. One of the biggest challenges facing emerging markets, such as Nigeria, is how to meet the needs of the present without risking our children future. The learning process through ILT has provided me a good understanding of sustainability in many ways. First, it has defined the goals towards sustainable development. Second, is has stressed that sustainability is the integration of social, ecological and economic performance to attain sustainable development, thus achieving the three pillars of sustainability in unison. Indeed, the ILT is a spanning boundary tool and platform bringing together diverse professionals from various fields, cultures, nations and continents to learn and share knowledge for a sustainable future.
As a change agent for sustainable development, how will you help others span their own boundaries and increase their understanding of sustainability through your transfer project and beyond?
The responsibility of a change agent is like going into the battle field with a common or new strategy that has been neglected or never embraced. My greatest passion has always been the promotion of environmental education and education for sustainable development, an education that is inclusive and transformative, bringing about new values in society, creativity, innovation, employment, economic growth, and respect for mother nature and the environment. Hence the most valuable key in attaining sustainability is “education”, which is the foundation of my transfer project. Thus education is promoted through sustainability training of the trainers in schools, social developers, government officials and small enterprise owner-managers. In addition, I am currently compiling a sustainability lexicon to serve as a working handbook for the basic understanding of terms and definitions of issues related to sustainability and sustainable development. In addition, this book will include promising best practice examples in various developmental areas and industry sectors.