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IFRA Nigeria/Institut Fran├žais/IAS round table: "Environment in Nigerian Megapolises. An Ibadan Perspective"

Friday 21st October 2016, Draper’s Hall, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan

Most of the Nigerian population lives today in cities. These have to cope with both an important demographic growth and a constant inflow increase of newcomers. This pressure exerted on Nigerian cities reflects in major issues regarding environmental management (ecological risks, like floods, pollution and waste management, protection of biodiversity, natural open spaces, urban agriculture and livestock, use of natural resources, land pressure, etc.), impacting various urban governance domains, such as security, infrastructures, health, sanitation, food security, living together and global urban life quality.

To discuss this wide thematic the Institut Français, in collaboration with the Fond d’Alembert, organised in 2016 three round-tables in three major Nigerian cities: Lagos (June 2016), Abuja (September 2016) and Ibadan (October 2016). Each of these round tables gathered Nigerian and French researchers and experts working on these issues in West African and Nigerian cities, representatives of the local authorities and Nigerian civil society actors operating in this field to exchange analysis, experiences and ideas.

Ibàdàn, the state capital of the Oyo State, is the third largest city of Nigeria, after Lagos and Kano, with a population of over 3 million. Founded in the middle of the 19th century as the capital of an independent Yoruba state, on a forest site containing several ranges of hills within the tropical forest zone but close to the boundary with the derived savanna, it is also said to be the vastest city in Nigeria (and in West Africa until the 70’s). By its glorious past as a powerful Yoruba state, then as the headquarters of the Western Province under British rule, and as an old trading centre between the South-Western coast and inland, Ibàdàn has a long history regarding management of environment in a context of fast urbanization. One of the main goals of the round table will be thus to highlight and to discuss the particular features of urban environment governance in Ibàdàn, compared to other large cities in Nigeria and in West Africa.

On Friday 21st of October 2016 from 9am to noon, the round table, held in Draper’s Hall, part of the Institute of African Studies within the University of Ibadan, gathered five distinguished participants from different backgrounds:

- Chief Isaac Adisa Ishola, Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources of Oyo State
- Pr. Laurent Fourchard, historian, senior researcher with the French Foundation of Political Science (FNSP) and at Centre of International Relations Studies (CERI) in Paris. His research is located at the intersection of African history and African politics and his interests focus on urban comparative research, violence and exclusion, citizenship and process of identification in Nigeria and South Africa.
- Dr. Ibidun Adelekan, geographer, associate professor at the Geography Department of the University of Ibadan. Her research interests are in the areas of climate-society interactions and human dimensions of global environmental change, including vulnerability/resilience of human-environment systems to climate change, especially in Ibadan, where she is currently coordinating a collaborative research for the Urban African Risk Knowledge Program (Urban Ark).
- Dr. Armelle Choplin, geographer, senior lecturer at Paris-Est Marne La Vallée University (France) and Abomé-Calavi University (Benin) and visiting researcher at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) in Cotonou (Benin). Her research interests focus on urban governance, urbanism and migrations in West Africa and the Arab World
- Mr Olatunde Obasola, member of The Nigerian Environmental Study Action Team (NEST), based in Ibadan.

The round-table was moderated with great skill by Dr. Philip Olayoku, IFRA fellow and member of the Peace and Conflict Department of the University of Ibadan.

After a good will message by the new scientific director of IFRA, Dr. Elodie Apard, and a brief introduction by its researcher, Dr. Emilie Guitard, recalling the context of the round-table (following COP21 summit in Paris and Quito Habitat III, in line with new IFRA research projects about urban environment, etc.), the moderator went around the table to hear each of the participants on 3 main questions:

  1. What are the specific features of environment and its management in the urban context in Ibàdàn, Nigeria and West-Africa?
  2. Do all the city-dwellers, depending on their neighbourhood and their socio-economic status, enjoy equally their urban environment (access to land and natural resources, to recreation natural spaces, to waste management, etc.)? And do they all suffer in the same way from their urban environment and/or its degradation (flooding, pests, pollution, reduction of biodiversity, etc.)?
  3. What are the roles played or which can/must be played by the young generations in the durable management of environment in Ibàdàn, Nigerian and West-African cities?

Each of our distinguished participants took his time to answer in details, at his own level of expertise, each question. After almost two hours, the roundtable ended with more than 30 minute of Q&A session with the audience, avid to ask questions about the management of environment in Ibadan, especially to the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources of Oyo State.

A cocktail in the entrance of the Institute of African Studies crowned this great scientific event of a new kind for IFRA Nigeria, and the academics and students from the Institute of African Studies and the University of Ibadan who attended it in great number.

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