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Nigeria is faced with many environmental problems. Available data indicate that Nigeria is losing her renewable natural resources (including arable land, forest, pasture/rangeland and water resources) beyond sustainable limits. Economic and environmental systems interact in many important ways and hence the need to understand these interactions and develop effective public policy. While economic systems derive many invaluable inputs (some commodified, others free) from environmental systems and processes, economic activity can have negative impacts on the functional integrity of these natural systems and processes. The dynamic interactions of the environmental degradation problem with socioeconomic factors are neither well understood in Nigeria, nor are the implications for the nation’s Transformation Agenda and Vision 20:2020 well appreciated. This study, therefore, explored the inherent dynamic interactions and feedback between the environment and socioeconomic spheres. The specific objectives were to: (i) determine the causality of resource degradation and macroeconomic profile, (ii) determine the causality of resource degradation and social profile, (iii) assess the effects of resource degradation on macroeconomic profile, (iv) assess the effects of resource degradation on social profile, and (v) forecast the impact of resource degradation on Nigeria’s socioeconomic profile and implications for Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020. The study adopted time-series design. Nigeria was the unit of analysis. Time series secondary data (from 1970 to 2010) from various sources were utilized for modeling and analysis. A time series environmental degradation index was constructed using the tool of principal components analysis (PCA). The constructed index (a synoptic single number) represents the nation’s ecological footprint or bio-capacity. The next step was the modeling of the index and seven other variables as a dynamic vector error correction model, given the non-mean reverting nature of the variables, and to capture the evolution and interdependencies between the variables. Results from the analysis show that the exploitation of renewable natural resources in Nigeria was highly cointegrated with her socio-economic spheres as there were 5-7 cointegrated equations in the vector error correction model (VECM). A bi-directional or feedback relationship existed between the index of environmental degradation and Nigeria’s socioeconomic profile. Agricultural prices, population dynamics, public capital expenditure on agriculture, fertilizer consumption, per capita income, life expectancy and greenhouse emissions granger-caused the index of degradation (joint p-value = 0.0389), the index of degradation granger-caused (p ≤ 0.05) agricultural prices, expenditure on agriculture, fertilizer consumption, greenhouse emission, per capita income, migration and life expectancy. The index of degradation produced significant (95% confidence level of error bands) positive and sustained effects on Nigeria’s macroeconomic profile (including agricultural prices, agricultural capital expenditure, fertilizer consumption and climate change over a ten- year horizon (2011-2020). On the other hand, the effects on Nigeria ’s social factors (such as per capita income, rural population dynamics and life expectancy) by the index of degradation were significantly (95% confidence level of error bands) negative and sustained over a ten-year horizon (2011-2020). Following from these results, the study among other things recommends a more comprehensive holistic and sustainable development path, and strategies and policies that integrate rural development and renewable natural resources management in order to tackle the complex, diverse and deeply rooted issues underlying worsening environmental degradation in Nigeria.
1.1 Background of the Study
There exists a delicate balance between economics and the environment and for several decades now, the challenge of achieving accelerated growth and poverty reduction while conserving the natural environment especially in poor countries has occupied the attention of policymakers and researchers. This global desire is expressed in many environment and development conferences including the environmental conference in Stockholm in 1972 and the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in 1987 (which produced the landmark Brundtland Report: Our Common Future). Others include the UN conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992,the “Earth Summit” (which produced the Agenda 21 action plan for development and the Rio Declaration on environmental protection and responsible development), the Millennium Summit in New York in September 2000 producing the MDGs, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in 2002 (CROP, 2005; Evans, 2004; Ralph & Roper, 2005).
More recently, according to United Nations (2012), the resolutions adopted during Rio+20 conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012 acknowledged the need to further mainstream sustainable development at all levels. This means integrating economic, social and environmental aspects into development and recognizing their inter-linkages so as to achieve sustainable development in all its dimensions. These global initiatives and brainstorming are in recognition of the centrality of the natural capital (e.g. forest,
arable land, water, rangeland, etc.) to long-term economic growth, human development and poverty reduction.
In Africa and sub-Saharan Africa in particular, it is acknowledged that the short- and medium-term options for fighting poverty and growing more sustainably lie in the rational management and utilization of its natural resources (Sergio, Anderson, Moes, Alam, Alemu, Macoun, Utria, Sanghvi, &Hewawasam, 2004). Forest, arableland, rangeland and water are critical natural resources not just in Africa but also in Nigeria. The forest, arableland, rangeland and water sectors present both unique opportunities and challenges (World Bank, 2002). They are key to poverty reduction, sustainable development, and the maintenance or conservation of environmental services which are central to achieving the goals and targets ofthe Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations, and the Vision 20:2020, Medium Term Economic Plan and the Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
As human capacity to alter and manipulate the quality and quantity of natural resources grows with economic and technological growth, the prospects of resource degradation has become a paramount development concern.The landmark report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987), titled “Our Common Future”, warned that unless we change many of our lifestyle, the world will face unacceptable levels of environmental damage and human suffering. The Commission, echoing the urgent need for tailoring the pace and the pattern of global economic growth to the planet’s carrying capacity, said that: “Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable and to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (IFAD, 2007).
The natural environment plays roles or functions that are indispensable to economic life. According to environmental economists, these functions include: a) resource functions – the
natural environment provides natural resources (renewable and non-renewable), e.g. mineral ores, crude petroleum, fish, crops and forests, that are inputs into human production processes; b) environmental service functions – the natural environment provides the basic habitat for clean air, drinkable water, and suitable climate that directly support all forms of life on earth and ameliorate climate change processes; c) sink functions – the natural environment serves as a sink which absorbs (up to a point) the pollution and wastes generated by economic activity, e.g. fluid industrial wastes end up in rivers and oceans, used packaging goes into landfills, and car exhaust dissipates into the atmosphere.
The overexploitation, degradation and unsustainable management of environmental resources can threaten economic growth and poverty reduction efforts. On one hand, protecting the environment might increase or reduce poverty; while, on the other hand, reducing poverty might help or hurt the environment. In the last few years in Nigeria, losses in non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and deforestation have been estimated at N120 billion (US$ 0.8 billion) per year (Eboh, Kalu, Achike, Ujah, Amakom, Oduh, Nzeh& Larsen, 2005b), representing about 15.48% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010 at 1990 constant prices. According to the statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) (2010), Nigeria is losing about 3.5% (350,000-400,000 hectares) of forest land per annum. If Nigeria should continue to lose its remaining forest resources, the economic cost will be higher than the current losses with a consequent loss in revenue, fuel wood supply and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) supply. But this could just be a micro view of the consequences. What about the wider socioeconomic implications?
Today in Nigeria, environmental resources including forests, arableland, rangeland and water are under pressure from natural hazards and expanding human population, which
frequently leads to degradation or conversion of environmental resources into unsustainable forms of use. When forests, for instance, are lost or severely degraded due to deforestation or forest clearance, their capacity to function as regulators of the environment and mitigation of climate change (global warming)are also lost, leading to increasing flood and erosion hazards, reducing soil fertility, and contributing to the loss of plant and animal life, thereby jeopardizing the sustainable provision of economic and ecological goods and services from forest.
1.2 Problem Statement
Nigeria is a country with great natural resource wealth. As a result, she ought to be developing more rapidly than other comparable countries which got their independence around the same time – e.g. South Africa (with independence in 1961) and Malaysia (independent since 1957). Unfortunately, UNDP (2013) shows that Nigeria (ranked 153) ranks below Malaysia (ranked 64) and South Africa (ranked 121) in the human development index (HDI). This scenario seems to be a symptom of natural resource curse – the observation that countries rich in natural resources tend to perform badly. Resource curse is an indication of the failure to reinvest earnings from their natural capital in other assets including human capital, physical capital or natural resources. Nigeria is now recognized as the largest economy in Africa, but it is doubtful how efficient this growth is. The country’s growth is not only unsustainable but wasteful.
Nigeria is not only suffering from natural resource curse, but more importantly the loss of renewable natural resources beyond sustainable limits and general environmental degradation. Soil degradation, rapid deforestation, desertification, and oil/other sources of pollution (in water, in the air and on soil), are some of the current environment issues facing Nigeria. Resource degradation leads to environmental scarcity in terms of decline in resource quantity and/or quality.
Data from CBN (2010) shows that about 350,000 to 400,000 hectares of forest land are lost per annum in Nigeria. Furthermore, the 2013 database of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) presents some interesting statistics on the status of Nigeria renewable resources. It shows that Nigeria’s forest area declined from 1.85% of Africa’s total in 2000 to 1.39% in 2009. Secondly, Nigeria’s arable land declined from 16.93% of Africa’s total in 2007 to 15.15% in 2009. Thirdly, the nation’s area for permanent meadows and pasture declined from 4.36% of Africa’s total in 2000 to 4.13% in 2009.
Besides, many linear models largely fail to recognize feedback loops, whereby one factor influences other processes, which in turn interact and circle back to change the initial factor. This dynamic interaction and feedback is inherent in nearly all environmental issues, but it is virtually impossible to comprehend in detail. Although there is growing recognition and understanding of the important linkages between environment and the economy, the specific details of these interactions are still largely speculative and often ignore the social aspects or dimensions. The causal links or linkages are rarely discussed and literature assumes an existing link without specifying it (Fuhr, Roeken, Schaper & Wegener, 1998).
Finally, the economy-environment-poverty linkage, in terms of the socioeconomic impacts of natural capital losses is unclear in Nigeria, while the cost of degradation of renewable natural resources are not factored into the nation’s national accounting system. These are the gaps that this study wants to fill. This study understands that economic (micro and macro), social and environmental systems interact in many important ways and their understanding is critical to developing effective public policy.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study were derived from 3 main questions: i) Is there any significant effect of renewable resource degradation on Nigeria’s socioeconomic profile? ii) Is there any significant link or causality between renewable resource degradation and Nigeria’s socioeconomic profile? What is the long-term impact of renewable resource degradation on Nigeria’s future development plans and targets?
Therefore, the broad objective of this study is to evaluate the socioeconomic links and effects of resource degradation (over the period 1970-2010) in Nigeria. Specifically, it aims to:
i. determine the causality of resource degradation and Nigeria’s macroeconomic profile;
ii. determine the causality of resource degradation and Nigeria’s social profile;
iii. assess the effects of resource degradation on Nigeria’s macroeconomic profile;
iv. assess the effects of resource degradation on Nigeria’s social profile;
v. forecast the possible impact of resource degradation and implications for Nigeria’s Vision 2020.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
This research was guided by the following null hypotheses:
i. there is no significant effect of resource degradation on Nigeria’s macroeconomic profile;
ii. there is no significant effect of resource degradation on Nigeria’s social profile; and
iii. thelinks and effects of Nigeria’s socioeconomic profile with resource degradation and vice versa are zero.
If these hypotheses turn out to be untrue, then it will shed some light on the extent to which forest, arable land, pasture and water resources conservation, protection and sustainability can drive or impair sustainable economic grow
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