EFFECTS OF SOCIOECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL VARIABLES ON RENEWABLE RESOURCE 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).
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