A Symposium on Energy, Climate Change and Environment was organized by the University of Benin and University of Reading, UK a leading institution in research and other stakeholders in collaboration with the National Centre for Energy and Environment of the Energy Commission of Nigeria.
The event which held from 23RD - 26TH SEPTEMBER, 2012 in the University of Benin,formed part of efforts to support the development of National and International strategies to share ideas and articulate collaborative research areas that will draw a road map towards achieving environmental, energy security, climate change mitigation/adaptation and environmental sustainability. It was also aimed at promoting economic growth, rural development, and poverty alleviation in Nigeria.
The symposium attracted over 180 participants from Nigeria and UK which include representatives of University of Reading, Principal Officers of University of Benin, Deans and Directors, Staff of the National Centre for Energy and Environment, representatives from government, private sector, academia, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Industry, Policymakers, Non-Governmental Organizations, Technocrats, Financial Experts, Professionals, Local Government Authorities and Media representatives.
Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Prof. O. G Oshodin chief host and Chairman of the occasion informed participants that Nigeria is already experiencing climate change impacts such as changes in rainfall patterns, increased frequency and severity of floods, droughts, changes in water quality and sea level rise because of its geographical location and high population density. In addition to changing climate, he said the country is also facing energy problems by the interrelated issues of lack of energy access, energy security concerns and over reliance on fossil fuels. As a result University of Benin has been actively engaged in collaborative projects with several reputable Institutions worldwide. He noted that the partnership with the University of Reading is a landmark development and reflects his administration resolve to implement the Memorandum of Understanding which was signed in March 2012.
Also present at the Symposium was the Executive Governor of Edo State Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole who thanked the organizers for choosing University of Benin as the host for the international symposium. In his remark he said this kind of collaboration and exchange of ideals between University scholars will benefit the Government whose responsibility is to draw from research findings that can help address real problems that confront Nigerians. According to the Governor, Nigeria is faced with major challenges in sustainable supply of energy services and adequate steps are required to address the challenges through appropriate policies.
The Pro Vice-Chancellor, International Engagement, University of Reading, Prof. Steve Mithen ably represented by Professor Chris Collins, Programme Director, MSc Soils and Environmental Pollution and Director of the Chemical Analysis Facility, School of Human and Environmental Sciences of the University of Reading and Dr Maria Del Maria Noguer, Development Manager, Walker Institute for Climate Research, University of Reading, UK in their remarks said that the University of Reading have a long term institutional commitment to Africa as part of their internationalization agenda.
Professor Chris Collins expressed his appreciations to the Vice-Chancellor and the organizers for the warm reception accorded him and his entourage and thanked him for his Internationalization policy that encourages international partnership to tackle climate and energy problems which are also global problems that require global collaborations.
He said University of Reading and Walker Institute are ready and keen to collaborate with University of Benin in the area of capacity building and articulated research projects. He further stated that University of Reading and Walker Institute have been involved in more than 30 on-going research projects and capacity building within Africa especially in Agriculture, Climate change, Construction, Biological sciences, Economics, Education, Archaeology and Development.
A keynote lecture was delivered by Prof. A.T. Salami, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics) Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun State. In his presentation on Survey of Global Environmental Science and Policy, he noted that twenty years after the landmark Rio Earth Summit of 1992, Nigeria Government still struggle to demonstrate improved environmental performance through quantitative metrics across a range of pollution control and natural resource management challenges. His study showed that environmental science is still largely pursued as traditional disciplines and our policies are outdated and inadequate for the current challenges. In view of limited resources, Global cooperation between higher and lower income countries is needed and partnerships and collaborations between institutions of learning are useful avenues for building local capacity.
The symposium featured two plenary sessions with three plenary lectures. The first plenary lecture was chaired by Professor Lawrence Ezemonye, Director, National Centre for Energy and Environment, Energy Commission of Nigeria, University of Benin The paper on Energy Issues in Nigeria was presented by Huzi Ishaku Mshlia Executive Director, Clean Energy Initiative, Abuja. In his presentation he said despite Nigeria’s abundance of fossil and renewable energy resources, Nigerians still experience acute energy poverty. He stated that the production and consumption of energy must be a priority on national agenda. He concluded that massive investment in research and development is important in addressing energy issue.
The second plenary lecture was chaired by Dr. Victor Fodeke, Technical Adviser, Climate Change African Union Commission, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, Ehiopia. The paper titled Research landscape: Past, Present and Future was presented by Professor Temi E. Ologunorisa, Director, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research, Osun State University, Osun State. In his presentation he said Nigeria was one of the 154 countries that initiated the Convention in Rio 1992, yet Nigeria have no national policy on climate change adaptation. He said Africa must brace up to the reality of climate change and invest in capacity building, formulate and implement adaptation measures to protect their citizens from climate related hazards and also integrate climate change into their developmental agenda.
Also speaking on the topic Research landscape: Past, Present and Future was Professor J.O. Igene of Food Science and Technology and Chairman, University Research and Publication Committee (URPC), University of Benin. He said in his presentation that the current research groupings in the University of Benin are weak and poorly funded. He reiterated that the Colleges/Faculties and Departments of the University are yet to formerly articulate and develop effective research teams. He said the current challenges in the research landscape in Nigeria are poor organization of research policy and support for R&D, poor linkages/collaborations among Nigerian Universities in R&D, Low level of Basic and Applied Research, poor level of commercialization of R&D in Nigeria and Infrastructural deficiencies. He called for international collaboration with Nigerian Universities/Scholars in research and development, linkages among Nigeria Universities and increase interests by scholars and scientists to be innovative.
Two business meetings were held on 24th and 25th of September 2012. The meetings focused on identification of research ideas and development of proposals in Energy, Climate Change and Environment, Food Agriculture and Livestock Development, Bioremediation, and Climate Adaptation Training Module. The first meetings were held in parallel at the University Auditorium to identify research ideas. This was as parts of efforts to identify collaborative areas.