African perspectives on sustainability have been shared in a session of IEMA’s annual Connect conference, where speakers from Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana discussed the challenges and opportunities they face when promoting sustainability.

This year’s IEMA Connect is taking place online and has had over 2900 people register to attend. Today’s agenda included environmental stewardship (kaitiakitanga) from a Māori perspective, how to build a career in sustainability, and networking sessions for the IEMA Futures network and our women’s network.

The session on Africa, titled ‘Advancing Sustainability in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities’ brought in voices from across government and business.

Henry David Bayoh, CEnv and Full Member of IEMA, the Senior Planning & Development Officer/Head of Climate Change for the National Tourist Board of Sierra Leone, said:

“The livelihood of people depends on the environment and on scarce resources.

“We are exceeding planetary boundaries, overusing resources. Our economy is not structured in a way that is sustainable, but there has been action in pursuing the circular model.”

Lucy Okeke PIEMA, Team Lead for Environment and Sustainability, Lagos Regional Office of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, responding to the impact of poverty on sustainability, said:

“To address poverty, we need to look at education. When you have quality education, people will know how better to use their resources. Education is a primary way to foster sustainability in the region.

“We need to also change the way we look at education. We need to look at local and indigenous knowledge that can be used to foster creation of awareness and learning about sustainability."

Victor Imevbore, Co-founder and Managing Director, Environmental Resources Managers Limited and Ex Chapter Chairman, Nigerian Environmental Society, Lagos Island Chapter, said:

“Poverty and a lack of education mutually reinforce each other. But there are other matters as well [acting as obstacles to sustainability].

“If you look at the global risks to business, amongst the top ten, at least eight of them relate to environmental and social issues. The solutions to environmental and social issues need to be pursued in tandem.”

Prof. Alhaji Umar Njai, professor of infectious diseases and toxicology at the University of Sierra Leone and founder of the not-for-profit Project 1808, dedicated to building capacity for sustainable livelihood in Sierra Leone, said:

“In countries like Sierra Leone, there is a major challenge with sustainability. We have to make a real balance between deciding how do we push with development efforts and at the same time, maintain the indigenous systems and cultures.”

Watch the session here.


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