DANJUMA WANIKO, a Chartered Surveyor and Environmentalist is the President of Green Building Council Nigeria (GBCN). In preparation for the Future Cities Summit that will be taking place later this month to be hosted by GBCN in association with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), he shared ideas on sustainable building practices, net zero and climate resilience which the summit seeks to explore and highlight. He also speaks on expectations from the summit and the future of GBCN. CHUKA UROKO, Property Editor, reports:
In a few days from now, Future Cities Summit will be held in Lagos, Nigeria. What are the expectations and how will the summit address sustainability and climate resilience in Nigeria?
Green Building Council Nigeria (GBCN) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), through its EDGE Green Building Market Transformation Programme, are set to host the Future Cities Summit to address sustainable building practices to accelerate net zero and climate resilience in urban development in Nigeria. The event will bring together key stakeholders within the real estate and construction sector.
The event which has a theme, ‘Towards a Net Zero and Climate-Resilient Nigeria,’ aims to catalyse change in the built environment by exploring innovative strategies and policies to enhance green practices for buildings and, at the same time, fostering the creation of sustainable cities. The event aligns with the World Green Building Council’s Africa Manifesto for Sustainable Cities and the Built Environment which outlines a comprehensive roadmap to guide Africa’s transition to greater urban sustainability. The Future Cities Summit will serve as a crucial platform for about 1,000 built environment professionals and stakeholders, providing opportunities for thought leadership, industry networking, sustainability advocacy, and recognition of initiatives. Attendees can expect engaging panel discussions, interactive sessions, and insightful presentations from renowned experts in the field, sharing their knowledge and experiences to drive positive change.
What are the key objectives and expected outcomes of the summit? How will it contribute to Nigeria’s transition to a net-zero and climate-resilient nation?
The Nigerian government is committed to achieving net-zero carbon by 2060 as part of the country’s contribution to fighting the global climate crisis. GBCN and the IFC align with this vision and have, therefore, decided to organise this inaugural edition of this Summit to explore ways to deliver on this commitment. Accordingly, the objective of the summit is to develop policy frameworks that will help Nigeria achieve a resilient environment, achieve its Net-Zero goals, as well as position the private sector as a partner with the government on achieve energy transition and climate resilience. We are encouraged by recent initiatives in this direction from the government of Lagos, such as Resilient Lagos, Circular Lagos and the upcoming Lagos green building code. The long-term objective of the Summit is, therefore, to encourage more Nigerian cities to emulate Lagos to be categorized as climate resilient as well as Net-Zero cities.
With its theme as ‘Towards a Net Zero and Climate-Resilient Nigeria’, what other major areas or topics will be addressed at the Summit?
The summit will focus on issues related to delivering on the World Green Building Council’s Africa Manifesto for sustainable cities and the built environment which articulates policies and commitments needed to deliver a net zero carbon, healthy, equitable, resilient, environmentally sustainable and economically inclusive built environment.
We have assembled experts to address the summit and explore policies and practical strategies to deliver a net zero and climate-resilient Nigeria. This will include keynote addresses, plenary sessions and technical panels on issues such as urban regeneration, resilient buildings and cities, net zero waste, energy transition, green financing, sustainable materials, net zero energy and water, green procurement, and sustainable infrastructure development.
Green buildings play a crucial role in achieving sustainability goals. How does GBCN plan to encourage an increase in the stock of green buildings in Nigeria? What are the strategies or initiatives for this?
GBCN recognized, early enough, that though there was underlying recognition of the need for more green buildings in Nigeria, there are several barriers to this such as lack of political engagement, regulatory limitations, and capacity deficits. We have, therefore, developed a multi-pronged strategy, which is designed to leverage market opportunities while addressing these barriers. This focuses on education and awareness, policy advocacy, research and innovation, and collaboration and partnerships.
We are proud to say that we have recorded some notable successes while implementing this strategy over the past couple of years. For example, we have recorded major achievements in addressing capacity deficits and creating awareness.
We have hosted eight virtual and two in-person events addressing varied green building issues, e.g., energy-efficient design, indoor environmental quality, decarbonization, waste minimisation, and green building certification systems.
These were attended by nearly 2,000 professionals from about 20 countries. GBCN has also established partnerships with key local and international stakeholders like the IFC, NIQS and GBCI, to advance green building. For example, our collaboration with IFC to promote their EDGE green building standard will create an environment that enables the growth of more green buildings in Nigeria.
What presentations and networking opportunities should attendees expect from the summit; what kind of insights will speakers be sharing?
The summit promises to be an exciting two-day event with about 40 key speakers and panels from Nigeria and across the globe. They will be providing insights on topics such as resilience, net-zero, and national urban development frameworks.
Attendees will hear from people like Nasir el-Rufai, immediate past governor of Kaduna State, who will be sharing how he was able to implement one of Nigeria’s most innovative and impressive urban renewal programmes in the Kaduna metropolis. The Summit will also feature a keynote by Kalim Shah, IFC’s Senior Country Manager for Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone, who will be talking about the role green financial instruments can play in driving green building and urban sustainability. There will also be speakers from major local and international public, private, academic and non-governmental organizations, such as Bureau for Public Procurement, Africa Development Bank, Sustainable Energy for All, Obafemi Awolowo University, Cygnum Capital, and ARUP Global.
Attendees will therefore have the opportunity to network and engage with international and local experts from diverse sectors. The discussion sessions will allow participants to contribute and learn at the same time.
In addition to green buildings, what other aspects of sustainable cities and urban development will be explored at the Summit?
The Summit will explore a variety of topics related to green buildings and sustainable cities with a focus on what is needed for Nigeria to achieve a decarbonised built environment and urban resilience. Our goal is to discuss a range of issues that will help Nigerian policymakers and private organizations understand what it takes to develop a decarbonized and climate-resilient environment.
More importantly, we plan to go beyond mere academic discussion of the issues, by hearing from local and international experts and practitioners as they explore strategies and policies that have been successfully used in Nigeria and other countries.
Nigeria faces unique challenges and opportunities in the context of sustainability. How does the GBCN plan to address these specific issues?
That is the purpose of the summit—to showcase what has worked both locally and globally, and for us to learn from these as a nation. Our speakers cut across various sectors. They include professionals, organisations, policymakers, green building and urban development professionals.
By bringing together experts and participants from those sectors, the Summit will create the ideal conditions under which they can network and engage with one another, learn what works and what doesn’t, and explore avenues for future partnerships.
Beyond the Summit, what are the long-term goals of the GBCN? Are there any follow-up activities to maintain the momentum after the event?
Definitely. We are not stopping with the Summit. GBCN recognises that Nigeria has a lot of catching up to do in the area of green building, especially when compared to some of our African neighbours. We, therefore, have an ambitious set of follow-up activities and initiatives designed to build on the momentum from the Summit and accelerate green building in our country.
Part of these will be initiatives to allow Nigerian professionals to upskill and develop green building capacity through educational offerings we intend to launch in the near future. This will include courses on carbon management and circular building design.
We also plan to leverage the opportunities from the summit to deepen existing partnerships and establish new ones. For example, we hope to expand our partnership with the IFC by collaboratively promoting the adoption of their EDGE green building standard as a strategy to catalyze green building practice in Nigeria.
This and other initiatives will be crucial to address other gaps in the Nigerian green building space, including lack of information and data on materials and products, lack of regulations and standards, and disconnected policies.
How can interested individuals or organisations participate in GBCN?
The event is going to be hybrid. So, wherever you are in the world you can attend. Participation is free and registration is still open on the summit website – www.futurecities.ng. We encourage people to register quickly so as to secure a spot. As for joining GBCN, our membership process is relatively easy and can be done online by visiting www.gbcn.org.ng. Membership is open to both individuals and organisations.