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Students Planting trees for environmental sustainability
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Students Planting trees for environmental sustainability
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School of Governance’s Report on development governance training held on September 28, 2019

1.0 Introduction 
The school of governance, apart from striving to create opportunities for all members of a population to make meaningful contributions to decision-making and seek to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities, it also aimed at educating and preparing the next generation of researchers, teachers, and practitioners to effectively promote a participatory decision making. 

In realizing the stated objectives, Community Development Advocacy Foundation (CODAF) with the support of the Emerhana Foundation (EF), African Centre for Environmental and Rural Development (ACERD) and Yasuni Association (YA) organized training on “Development Governance”. Selection of participants was carefully done to reflect a wide range of actors which include journalists, development workers and entrepreneurs. There were about 20 participants in the training, with an overwhelming majority coming from a youthful background. In the trainings, women participants were fewer than men, the gender imbalance might be related to the fact that women generally feel withdrawn in actively participating voluntarily unless they are properly informed. Experience shows that gender balance and cultural heterogeneity can positively impact discussions on discrimination and exclusion.

2.0 Methodology
Approaches used throughout the training involved a combination of plenary and small group activities, presentations, discussion and experiential learning. The course advisor, Paul Emerhana, often generated discussions and led in presentations and providing guidance to facilitators and clarifications to participants.
Aside from discussing the purpose of the school of governance, Uruemu Judith, CODAF’s Project Officer, facilitated and led a conversation on the Poverty Tree. The poverty tree was designed to get the understanding of participants on how they view poverty. Their feedback exposes the political, social, economic and cultural dimensions of poverty and the ways out of poverty were also analyzed. This discussion flowed into describing the concept of “development governance”. The facilitator hinted that development can mainly be understood from the perspective of addressing poverty and human needs, that human needs are the elements required for survival and normal mental and physical health. She said, Maslow had stated that, people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. “Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behavior”. In a quick intervention by the Course Advisor, Paul Emerhana, he opined that Maslow classified basic human needs into five levels which are represented with a triangle, noting that the primary need of man is the physiological needs (Food, air, water, oxygen, shelter, sleep, sex, warmth, good health etc). According to him, “man can survive with these needs, but man is not satisfied until he gets to the pick of the triangle classified by Maslow as the needs of self-actualization”. The understanding of development governance became clearer after the poverty tree and the concept of basic human needs were analyzed. A conclusion was drawn to state that development governance is a concept that is not in existence in literature but for the purpose of the course “development governance was defined as a process of making a collective decision by all stakeholders in order to bring about fundamental and substantial changes in the society that meets a people’s need(s)”’.

 In further broadening the understanding of trainees, the Advisor trained them on the concept of Human Rights-Based Approach to development and the global Sustainable Development Goals. He said no one should talk about development without analyzing its implication and therefore assess the understanding of participants on what human rights are all about. Continuing, he said that “the central dynamics of a right-based approach is about identifying root causes of poverty, empowering rights-holders to claim their rights and enabling duty-bearers to meet their obligations”. The HRBA is also a tool to reach people who are the poorest and most vulnerable. It allows the views of the people (rights-holders) to be considered in such communities through active engagement and participation, providing a comprehensive understanding of the problems at hand and their causes and consequences. The HRBA ensures that projects aren’t planned in isolation from reality and without an understanding of the concerns of the perspective of rights-holders and duty-bearers. The approach enables ordinary people to decide the paths of development with the tools of community needs assessment, which is a combination of information gathering, community engagements and focused action with the goal of community improvement.

He went further to say that “the year 2015 marked the deadline for MDGs and the world moved to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The Goals are a new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that 193 countries in the world have jointly set under the leadership of the United Nations”. There are 169 targets for the 17 goals. Each target has between 1 and 3 indicators used to measure progress toward reaching the targets. In total, there are 232 approved indicators that will measure compliance. For the purpose of the training, he laid special emphasis on goal 1-5 which are: No Poverty (1), Zero Hunger (2), Good Health and Wellbeing (3), Quality Education (4) and Gender Equality (5). The most important goal among the 17 goals is education. Education is the tools needed to create jobs to eradicate global poverty, achieving zero hunger, good health and environmental sustainability. All that is required by governments, industries, philanthropists and individuals is to do all they can to contribute to the realization of the first five goals which is the foundation of all the other goals. The approaches needed to achieve the set goals are not as complex as people perceive, because the targets, indicators and strategies are clearly stated. What is needed is the political will by all nations to reflect the desire needs of their nations on the global agenda.

Participants were given a task to solve some basic problems putting the concept of human rights-based approaches into practice. One of the problems they proffered solution to, is the case of oil spill which ravaged K-Dere community, Ogoniland, River State in 2007, from Shell’s facility. Participants were further tasked to create local solutions to the SDGs on their own. 

Because of time constraints, participants were made to vote for one out of the remaining three topics left in the manual to be treated. From the votes it showed that participants preferred the “ecological debt” over development politics and tools for development advocacy since they can read them up on their own.
Fred Nohwo, Executive Director of ACERD, initiated a conversation with the participants on what they feel ecological debt stands for. Their responses confirmed the reason they voted for the topic. Fred, continued by saying “the ecological debt concept is ecological damage caused over time by a country in one or other countries or to ecosystems beyond national jurisdiction through its production and consumption patterns and the exploitation or use of ecosystems over time by a country at the expense of the equitable rights to these ecosystems by other countries. The concept casts a new light on our understanding of ‘sustainable development’, not just by adding a historical dimension but by bringing power and justice to center stage, to reveal control over resources and pollution burdens as an issue of power relations. The point is not to exchange external debt for protection of nature (e.g. debt for nature swaps) but to emphasize that the external debt from South to North has already been paid on account of the ecological debt the North owes to the South, and to stop the ecological debt from increasing any further. The concept has the potential to help the implementation of sustainability and to fight environmental injustices.” Concluding the presentation, he engaged with participants using a simple formula in calculating ecological debt. This exercise helped to broaden the understanding of the trainees on the elements they should look out for when they want to make claims for an ecological debt own them and real negotiation skills. 

3.0 Outcome
Before the training, participants expressed concerns over the choice of the topics through a pre-training survey carried out to check how familiar they were with the chosen topics. They said the topics were very ambiguous and they feared if they would understand anything at the end of the training. The post-training evaluation carried out showed how excited the participants were to have taken part in the training. They confirmed that the choice of topics for the training was very relevant to the work they do, while noting that they have leant so many tools and skills that can add value to the course they pursue. Some of the topics that were highly rated by the participants as topics they never thought would be relevant to them were the concept of a human rights-based approach to development; community needs assessments and ecological debts. Development politics which focused on the implication of neoliberalism and the growing cases of land grabbing in Nigeria and advocacy tools for development such as Free Prior and Informed Concept (FPIC), Environmental Impacts Assessment (EIA) and the Global Memorandum of Understanding were also in the manual to help enhance their understanding.

A WhatsApp group which was canvassed for as one of the post-training outputs has been created to receive post-training feedback and outcome harvesting. This is also important to clarify issues in the training manual that are difficult for participants to understand most especially in the topics that were not treated.

4.0 Resolution 
At the end of the training participants, therefore resolved that:
  1. Development should not be seen only as a tool to addressing poverty and human needs but a tool to reverse the ecological damages that it has created,
  2. Government should always fulfill her obligation or responsibility to respect and protect the rights of the poorest, weakest, most marginalized and vulnerable, and to comply with these obligations and duties,
  3. Governments and the private sectors should make it a point of duty to always conduct a community need assessment before carrying out development projects in communities,
  4. Government at all levels should commit to prioritizing where necessary the implementation of the global sustainable development goals to ensure that the 2030 targets are met in all key sectors,
  5. Rich countries’ Corporations making disproportionate use of environmental space or services without payment (for instance, to dump carbon dioxide and pollution) should be made to pay and replenish the environment,
  6. The Land Use Act remains the most controversial legislation act in Nigeria which the Federal Government as a matter of urgency, should do away with,
  7. The Nigerian government should stop aiding land grabbing and desist from providing more land to agribusiness companies,
  8. Governments and the private sector should ensure the adequate implementation of Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which states that duty bearers shall “consult and cooperate in good faith with Indigenous Peoples concerned through their representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures and project that may affect them”.

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CODAF also known as Rural Community Empowerment Initiative (RUCEi) works to bridge the communication gap between policy makers and the grassroots AND raise awareness of rural dwellers and empowering them to be active players in environmental decision making.

This mandate is anchored on article 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights which states that “All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development


To engage in intervention projects that builds the capacity and empowers rural community people to defend their collective rights to participating in natural resource governance through a right-based approach


To engage in intervention projects that builds the capacity and empowers rural community people to defend their collective rights to participating in natural resource governance through a right-based approach


We envision a self-sufficient community in the management of their environment and resources without any form of marginalization.