Business Case for Environmental Sustainability in Nigeria II

Business Case for Environmental Sustainability in Nigeria II

In my previous post, I made a case for environmental sustainability (ES) highlighting it as a conduit for inclusive sustainable development in the era of evolving business practices. I also discussed the global attention to environmental responsibility and safeguards, reducing cost and enhancing brand perception through reconciling nature and development, before culminating with how ES is not a short-term bargain. This terminal piece discusses the role of the government and integrating ES into business strategy.

 

Evidence-based policies and compliance

As a country, we have done well to piece together environmental legislation and policies albeit compliance is still a struggle. Sincere stakeholder’s engagement, clear communication of expectations against deliverables and the right incentives will always assure compliance.

But not to deviate, at a time when investments in social infrastructural and agriculture are at the fore of our national development, environmental guidelines need high resolutions to be attuned accordingly. By now environmental laws and case in point EIA law, needs to be elaborate on safeguards and mitigating residual impacts i.e. offsetting, to allow businesses internalize their environmental externalities.

Finely grained policies are good ingredients for implementation and I already see opportunities for institutional synergies and partnerships in this potential market segment.

In addition, our environmental policies need to absorb other previously overlooked sectors, which the state and local governments can focus on. We all remember the Benue flood of last year (2017) where houses were built along riparian lands and in flood plains (article photo). While we can definitely do better to avoid these environmental time-bombs that are visible across our urban landscape, the relevant government MDAs including regulatory bodies hold the key through evidence-based policies and ensuring compliance.

Although there is a global pool of environmental tools and frameworks to draw from, they must be adapted to fit our context. I underscore ‘adapt’ because global strategies and models do not always work in Nigeria. Ours is a unique ecosystem yearning for bespoke strategies and solutions.

 

Navigating the labyrinth of ES

A good start point for businesses is to understand their peculiar case for ES, i.e. the sweet spots where operations and value-chain overlap with issues of the natural environment. This materiality process helps create a rationale that is cascaded into executable activities. Of course, business drivers and/or needs for ES will help prioritize these activities.

The next stop after finding the case for ES is to ensure top-level involvement. This fulcrum turns all the levers and gives seriousness to your ES implementation. Setting SMART-ER and scalable milestones should follow commitment from the board and these must be closely accompanied by urgent implementation and reporting of activities.

To demonstrate progress we need to measure ROI. However, what we cannot count, we simply cannot measure. So what and how do we count? The mystery is in the metrics and it is even more challenging considering the intangibility of some environmental indicators mostly because they are latent and often overlooked.

Nonetheless, the framework for evaluating ES and creating value (both short and long-term) involves identifying, measuring and valuing business impacts and dependencies on nature. This will help apply a new set of baseline criteria to company operations, which can always undergo systematic appraisals. Watch this space for more insights on this.

 

Certainly, the commitment to ES is growing and it is only a matter of time now. This is underpinned by expectations that long-term profitability should go in tandem with environmental responsibility to utilize efficiently with minimum waste; which is exactly what ES is all about.

The tide is rising, why swim when we can build a bridge.

 

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