As issues such as climate change, environmental degradation and inclusion become increasingly important, it has become pertinent for businesses to put sustainability at the core of their business strategy.
Renewable Energy expert and Sustainability advocate, Doyin Fadipe, asserted this at the recently concluded Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) Conference, held virtually with the theme, Inclusive Communities, Inspired Women. The event gathered a vast array of key stakeholders including to deliberate on pathways for empowering women and fostering inclusion in Nigerian communities where resource extraction is taking place.
Alongside Ms Fadipe, speakers at the SITEI 2020 include the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata; Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Investments; Maryam Uwais; Managing Director of LADOL Free Zone, Dr Amy Jadesimi; Special Adviser to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Edolor Iyamu; and Chief Executive of CSR-in-Action, Bekeme Masade-Olowola, to name a few.
In three sessions, the panellists analysed various issues relating to gender inclusion, effective stakeholder engagement, access to energy, inclusive development, and resource extraction in Nigeria.
According to Fadipe, access to electricity, sustainability, and stakeholder engagement are all interlinked, and cannot be separated. Many businesses find it difficult to implement these processes, not because they are not interested or willing but that they did not count the cost at the inception of the business. Without the right framework and structure from the beginning, it becomes difficult to implement them.
“I think, for all corporate organisation interacting with vulnerable communities, not only in the extractive industries, when it comes to understanding, community stakeholder engagement, and sustainability have to be part of the core of a business. ,” said Fadipe, who is the CEO of Central Electric and Utilities (CEU) limited, a power project development company active in renewable energy, solar solutions and innovation in the power sector.
Furthermore, Fadipe advocates for sustainability credentials to be part of the criteria in awarding licences for corporate entities doing business in vulnerable communities.
“I dare to say that even in selecting and identifying the management capabilities of the organization, you need to find people who are intrinsically disposed to making sure and understanding that this is not a question of obligation. You have to link community engagement and sustainability to profitability, and it can be done.”
According to the NBA President, Olumide Akpata who spoke on the legal framework for protecting the rights of women and other vulnerable groups in host communities, stakeholders must ensure that extractive industries operation goes on but those living in operational areas can live their lives as normal as possible.
“Sustainability means us achieving that compromise where the industry continues to yield benefits without endangering the people in their operating environments. We must hold operators in the extractive industries responsible with regards to their obligations to their operating communities,” Akpata said.
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Edobor Iyamu, spoke about the government’s response to some of the issues relating to sustainability and inclusion in the Niger Delta, the region where the bulk of Nigeria’s crude oil is gotten from.
Speaking on the president Muhamadu Buhari Administration’s blueprint for fast-tracking development in the Niger Delta, the Presidential aide said:
“The New Vision speaks to a forthright partnership between key stakeholders including host communities, federal government, state governments and the private sector in the Niger Delta. It is the Buhari Administration’s vision for a prosperous Niger Delta in which the people of the region maximally benefit from the wealth of their land.”