Once again congratulations to all participants and winners in our WED 2020 Essay Competition.Having announced our winners, we are sharing with you the essays that came top 5 in the Competition. 

Starting with 5th position, written by Joy Boluwatife Eguaoje of University of Ibadan.

Her scores were as follows;

Stage 1: 77

Stage 2: 77

Final Stage: 5th position

Ayotunde Adeyemi

Program Officer

Joy Boluwatife Eguaoje

INTRODUCTION

Imagine that more than half of the world’s population was forced to leave Earth to another planet to begin a new life and start the process of discovery, evolution, and technology all over, just like many years ago. This, according to the World Wild Life Fund, may soon become a possibility if we continue with our biodiversity consumption patterns.

Biodiversity is the variability amongst living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems.[1]Biodiversity provides man with basic ecosystem goods such as food; fiber; medicine, nutrient cycling, and so on. There have been five episodes of mass extinction of biodiversity since the beginning of life on Earth and the sixth extinction is looming.[2] This extinction is different from the others; it is estimated to be 1,000 times faster than previous extinctions[3] and this is due to human actions such as overexploitation and hunting of species. There is a need to ensure the protection of biodiversity for our sakes and the process through which this can be done in conservation.[4]

Conservation involves the preservation, maintenance, recovery, and enhancement of the components of biodiversity.[5]  There is no doubt that biota conservation is the solution to the heavy loss of biodiversity and there are several measures employed to implement it. Subsequent paragraphs will show that it has a proportional impact on national development.

THE NEXUS BETWEEN BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Biodiversity conservation and national development are intertwined and mutually dependent. They both have a common end, that is, the advancement of social progress and economic growth.[6]  Conserving biodiversity gives us ample opportunity to preserve plants, animals, and the ecosystem, building the foundations of sustainable development for society.

More importantly, biodiversity steers the economic divisions that drive national development such as agriculture; forestry; fishery, and tourism, resulting in increased prospects for development. The five major emerging economies in the world (China, India, South Africa, Brazil, and Mexico) use almost three- a quarter of the Earth’s biocapacity.[7]

Since the conservation of biota results in the sustainability of organisms, the underlying outcome is that such a nation can meet its present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy their own needs[8], thereby fulfilling the condition necessary for sustainable development. It is therefore evident that biodiversity conservation and national development are interrelated.

BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: POTENTIALS AND CHALLENGES

Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and it has one of the fastest population growth rates in the world. More than 70% of its population live in rural areas and rely on natural reserves and agricultural biodiversity to survive.[9] This, however, has not spurred an upsurge in biodiversity conservation, if at all; the pressure on biodiversity. Unfortunately, the natural course for rejuvenation has proved to be inadequate for the exploitation of such magnitude.

It’s no longer news that Nigeria is in dire need of national development, however, despite projects and programs that have been introduced, the situation continues to deteriorate. Thus, the focus ought to be shifted to development via the utilisation of natural resources. There is a need to explore the potentials as well as the stumbling blocks inherent in the pathway of biodiversity conservation and national development.

Development is the continuous improvement in the capacity of the individual and society to control the forces of nature for the enhancement of the living standard of people in a society.[10] Following from this, development involves the enhancement of life in the society using the natural forces available. One of the sectors to be considered is the agricultural sector.

In Nigeria, given the widespread rural poverty, agriculture can play a significant role in sustainable economic development for the nation.[11] Obvious examples of this include the dynamism of the Green Revolution during the 1960s and 1970s that transformed the agricultural sector into a modern industrialised sector for development and the agricultural development in China that contributed to its economic development.[12]

Conservation of agricultural biota encourages a proportional increase in national development; indeed, more than 60 wild species have been used to improve the world’s major crops by providing genes for pest resistance, improved yield, and enhanced nutrition. Also, over seven thousand plant species have been used for human consumption, regulation of biochemical cycles, absorption of pollutants, and waste materials.[13]

Biodiversity conservation leads to self-sufficiency in the basic food supply, increased production of agricultural raw materials, and an increase in GDP through the export of agricultural produce, improvement in the living quality of urban and rural dwellers.[14] The tropical rainforest in Nigeria offers an assemblage of fruit trees which can be utilised for both domestic and commercial use.[15]

Despite all these, some challenges hinder the role of biodiversity. One of these is pollution and climate change. This particularly applies to Nigeria because the heavy dependence of fossil fuels has encouraged greenhouse gas emissions in such a way that it has multiple consequences on biodiversity.[16]This diminishes the ability of the ecosystem to provide services and goods for national development.[17]

Further, population growth is another challenge of biodiversity and national development. Although it may not directly lead to environmental degradation, it certainly impairs and undermines the development of a nation. The population pressures on natural resources build the intensity of biodiversity extinction due to high demand and natural disasters such as floods and droughts.[18]Also, legislative constraints pose a challenge to the utilisation of biodiversity in national development.

The touristic potentials of biodiversity conservation is another important aspect of national development. The World Trade Organisation stated that tourism is one of Africa’s greatest but most under-invested assets. Tourism is a sector that economists see as a foundation for development because it represents both sides of a coin, while it serves as a mechanism for the protection of the ecosystem, it also provides benefits to a nation via the generation of revenue, financial returns on investment, and development of rural communities. The benefits of tourism are all-inclusive and it is responsible for the development of African countries such as Rwanda, South Africa, and the Gambia.[19] While it encourages adequate protection of the Earth’s resources, it also serves as a means for job production, revenue derivation, and foreign investment.

As beautiful as this may sound, Nigeria still has a long way to go when it concerns the utilisation of tourism for national development.  A survey conducted in 2014 revealed that less than 20% of Nigerians who spend their vacation abroad had visited the Obudu Cattle Ranch. What this implies is that Nigerians are fuelling the vehicle of tourism in foreign countries such as France, China, and Dubai at the expense of the nation.

On a closer look, this cannot be said to be the fault of the aforementioned class of people. There has been little or no effort by the government to preserve and manage potential and current tourism locations. Factors like poor roads, poor means of transportation, insecurity, inadequate facilities, and poor policies have discouraged the growth of tourism in the country.

The rural factor is also a challenge to the above potentials. Most of these sites are located in rural areas where little or nothing is done to improve the standard of living. Potential tourism sites battle with low investment, inadequate funding, and policy inconsistency. In places where facilities are manageable to an extent, there is the fear of diseases or accidents by foreigners or urban residents.

 CONCLUSION

There are boundless potentials for national development that can spring from biodiversity conservation. However, we must bear in mind that for this to be achieved there must be an effective conservation system in place and this can begin by policymaking and implementation, diversification of the economy to biota to raise revenue, and re-routing revenue to invest in tourism and conservatory sites. This may take some time and chunks of financial investments but it is a process that we must face if we want to achieve not only national development.

Joy Boluwatife and others at the Prize Giving Ceremony

[1] Article 2 of the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD)

[2] Hay-edie, T. Bulus, B., Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development: The Need to Maintain Natural Resources for The Future Generations. “Youth and United Nations Global Allowance.”

[3] Ibid, see 1 above

[4] Mutia, T., (2009). Biodiversity Conservation. “Geothermal Development Company.” Nairobi, Kenya.

[5] Ibid, see 4 above

[6] Ibid, see 1 above

[7] Anup, S., (2014), Why is Biodiversity Important? Who Cares?. “Global Issues”. Accessed on June 2, 2020. Retrieved at   https://www.global issues.org/article/170/why-is-biodiversity-important-who-cares

[8] World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). 1987.

[9] Ibid, see 7 above.

[10] Adah, B., Abasilim, U., (2015), Development and Its Challenges in Nigeria: A theoretical discourse. “Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. Vol:6. No:6. MCSER publishing. Rome-Italy

[11] Nwankpa, N., (2017). Sustainable Agricultural Development in Nigeria: A Way Out of Hunger and Poverty. “European Journal of Sustainable Development.” Vol:6, No:4, Pg 175-184

[12] Ibid, see 10 above.

[13] Hay-edie, T., Bulus, B., Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development: The Need to  Maintain Natural Resources for Future Generations. “youth and United Nations Global Alliance”

[14] Ibid, see 12 above

[15] Nigeria: Fifth National Biodiversity Reports (2015)

[16] Uzoigwe, D., (2007). Economic Development in Nigeria through Agricultural Manufacturing and Mining Sectors: An Econometric Approach. “University of Pretoria.”

[17] Ibid, see 1 above.

[18] Conserving Biodiversity: A Research Agenda for Development Agencies. “National Centre for Biotechnology information.” United  States Natural Library of Medicine. The U.S.A.

[19] Ibid, see 18 above

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