UNEP seeks inclusive economic policies to tackle unemployment

Dr. Richard Munang, PHOTO: youtube

Dr. Richard Munang, PHOTO: youtube

Nigeria must invest in more inclusive sectors to ensure growth is more inclusive, guaranteeing jobs, enhancing food security and building climate resilience for the majority, the African Regional Coordinator of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Dr. Richard Munang, has said.

Speaking at the official launch of Nigeria branch of Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) in Abuja, the regional UNEP chief explained that unemployment is rising because the expansion of the economy has not been an all-inclusive effort.

He added: “Going forward, it is imperative for Nigeria to invest in more inclusive sectors to ensure growth is more inclusive, guaranteeing jobs, enhancing food security and building climate resilience for the majority. Without investing effort and money in sustainable food systems, hungry Africa won’t be able to rise for real. It is therefore imperative to have a practical strategy to ensure achievement of inclusive sustainable economic growth, not only for Nigeria, but for Africa as a whole.”

He stressed that is increasingly becoming apparent that in addition to oil and metal revenues which are indeed very crucial to Africa’s growth, diversification into other sectors such as an optimized agro-sector, services, manufacturing etc., is an imperative to safeguard the souring hopes of a rising Africa, saying it is indeed clear that the success story for Africa will be in broadening and diversifying economies beyond commodity exports.

Additionally, Dr Munang was quick to point out that the plummeting commodity prices are not the only threat to a rising food security in Africa.

“Exacerbating all these challenges is climate change, which will reverse all developmental gains and stifle further progress according to the UNEP 2015 Africa Adaptation Gap Report in addition to disproportionately afflicting the poor, and significantly reducing productivity in Africa’s agricultural sector by up to 40 % in key staples resulting in a 25 – 90% increase in incidences of undernourishment as well as putting 50% of the continent’s population at risk of undernourishment. This is in addition to loss of livelihood considering the sector employs up to 64% of labor in Africa.”

Regrettably he argued that the dismal state of affairs is replicated across all African countries including Nigeria.

Pointing at the misconception of economic development for economic growth that Nigeria has consistently achieved over the last few decades, he explained that despite being Africa’s largest economy with GDP valued at an impressive over $510 billion and ranked 26th largest globally, poverty levels in Nigeria are high, with 60.9% of Nigerians, or nearly 100 million people living on less than $1 daily.

He added: “Agriculture growth is below the 10% necessary for attaining food security and poverty reduction. Youth unemployment is at a high of 50% and as the youth population grows, so does the unemployment rate. About 13million people suffer hunger. Malnutrition is high and Nigeria has among the highest numbers of severely malnourished children in the world: approximately 24% of children under five – more than a million children – suffer from malnutri
tion.”



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