March 27, 2023

UNILAG pioneers environmental sustainability innovation

UNILAG pioneers environmental sustainability innovation

…calls for circular economy approach

By Miftaudeen Raji

The University of Lagos, UNILAG, has organised the first-ever environmental sustainability innovation conference in Nigeria, tagged “UNILAG Environmental Sustainability Challenge & Recycling Bazar.”

The widely publicised event kicked off on Thursday, March 23, 2023, at the Tayo Aderinokun Hall with an Official Opening Ceremony.

Well-attended, the event was graced by hundreds of students and staff of the University of Lagos who found an outlet to express their love for the environment.

[Photo] Left – Right: Mr. Ayodele Adeyelu; Dr AbdulGaniyu Adelopo (Programe Lead);  Professor Lucian O. Chukwu, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services); Professor Folasade Ogunsola, FAS (Vice-Chancellor); Mr. Ismaila Oladejo Azeez (Registrar); Mrs Stella Ajayi; Mrs. Oluwafunmilola Yetunde Adekunle (Bursar);  Mrs Omolara olarewaju.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services), Professor Lucian Chukwu, represented the Vice-Chancellor at the event. He commended the organisers of the programme for coming up with the idea and for demonstrating that the Future-Ready vision of the Vice-Chancellor for the University of Lagos is a very feasible one.

The Keynote Speaker, Professor Lucian Chukwu, enlightened the participants on the role of plastic in the socio-economic development of human societies, and its impact on the environment.

“Though it has become a menace, plastic is what our society will still require at every point of social and economic development. Taking our campus for example, given its location beside the Lagos Lagoon, socio-economic activities herein have major impacts on the coastal environment.”

“Nigeria ranks high among countries with the highest volume of the estimated mass of the mismanaged plastic waste. That reality is a threat to human and environmental well-being. The way out for our country is to adopt the Circular Economy approach.”

He enumerated and explained the benefit of plastics, underscoring it as a by-product of crude oil which has many important uses. He also counterbalanced his argument for plastic usage by sharing, with the audience, the challenges that unfettered use and disposal of plastics pose to human and environmental health.

Speaking on Circular Economy, the Professor of Marine Biology noted that, “as a paradigm shift from Waste Management to Resource Management”.  He further described it as “an economic model that aims to minimise waste, promote resource efficiency, and create sustainable value”.

Chukwu encouraged members of the University Community to participate fully in the UNILAG Environmental Sustainability Challenge, being mindful of the fact that they are contributing their own quota to Nigeria becoming a Green Economy. 

President of the Lagos Recyclers Association, Dr. Femi Idowu-Adegoke, delivered a presentation on “Uncovering the Opportunities in Recycling Using Innovation and Entrepreneurial Skills”. He shared little-known opportunities that exist in the recycling space in Nigeria, and encouraged students to deploy their entrepreneurial skills in exploiting them.

In his words, “The entrepreneurial approach to waste sees it as a recyclable resource, and not as an environmental menace. There are immense opportunities in the Recycling Space that you can take advantage of, even while still a student”.

The Project Lead of the Sustainability Challenge, Dr. Abdulganiyu Adelopo, gave an address on the purpose of the Challenge.

Adelopo noted that the focus of the project is to mobilise community members to track, collect, and recycle 1.5 million Plastic Bottles and Cans on campus; to create empowerment opportunities for students by their participation in several points of the value chain of waste-to-wealth recycling; and to strengthen the University of Lagos’ global ranking in Environmental Sustainability.

The day rounded off with an Exhibition of Recycled Products at the Foyer of J.F. Ade-Ajayi Auditorium.

The three-day event continued on Friday, March 24 with a programme on Internship Opportunities Discovery and Networking with Value Chain Companies at the J.F. Ade-Ajayi Auditorium. On Saturday, March 25, 2023 a campus-wide Clean-Up exercise and Street Show.