Nigeria is characterized by the richness and diversity of its natural resources. The country is the largest oil and gas producer in Africa and the fourth largest gas producer in the world. Resource extraction is the most important sector of the economy. The most economically valuable minerals include crude oil, natural gas, tin and columbite. In addition, Nigeria has untapped agricultural potential, over 1,000 km of coastline, and 279 billion cubic meters’ of surface water sources that can boost irrigated agriculture, blue economy development and ecotourism .
Nigeria is also endowed with many renewable energy resources in commercial quantities. Major renewable energy resources include solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, and tidal waves. However, despite these huge energy endowments, the lack of access to affordable and reliable energy services hampers industrial production and the country’s economic growth .
The opportunities in terms of green economy are linked to the enormous possibilities for sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, ecotourism, and coastal development. Nigeria's commitment to harnessing its natural resource potential could make the country a pioneer in promoting green economy development.
Changing climatic conditions threaten inclusive growth in Nigeria. This is further complicated by the Nigerian economy which is dominated by the oil sector. Nigeria's mono-economy makes it difficult to decouple emissions from the economic growth trajectory, challenging the country's transition to a green economy .
The challenges of sustainability and inclusiveness of growth in Nigeria are also compounded by several other underlying pressures such as the unsustainability of the key economic sectors of agriculture, mining and marine; rapid population growth rate and failure to reap the benefits of the population dynamics; high incidence of poverty; poor governance and endemic corruption; and poor social indicators .
Key policies and governance approach
Nigeria’s response to the declining oil prices caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has indicated a willingness from the country to diversify its economy for a greener future. With the $5.9 billion Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, the stimulus and recovery package includes extended protections to the poor, new infrastructure investments, particularly around food security, renewable energy, and local manufacturing. Notably, it includes a new US$ 620 million solar home systems scheme, which aims to create 250,000 jobs in the solar industry and provide access to electricity for around 25 million Nigerians, with a further US$ 370 million allocated to research into renewable and alternative energy sources .
More broadly, it includes steps to reduce the country’s dependency on fossil fuels by cancelling fuel subsidies, estimated to save around USD$2 billion per year. These steps account for a sizeable proportion of the total stimulus, demonstrating Nigeria’s commitment to build an inclusive, equitable and sustainable economy .
Further, Nigeria’s National Development Plan (2021-2025)  provides a roadmap for economic recovery and poverty reduction, and contains significant environmental sustainability aspirations including, among others, emission reductions, strengthened disaster management, and increased access to finance and technical support for businesses and projects in environmentally sustainable sectors.
Other green economy-related policies and strategies in Nigeria include, among others, the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action on Climate Change for Nigeria (NASPA-CCN); National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy (NREEEP); Nigeria's Renewable Energy Master Plan; Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative National Strategic Action Plan (GGWSAP); National Agricultural Resilience Framework (NARF) and the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan .
Successes and remaining challenges
Nigeria's main development challenge is to diversify its economy away from the oil sector and promote sustainable development. To address this challenge, Nigeria aims to move from a linear economy (fossil fuel-based models of production, distribution and consumption) to a low emissions circular economy that will ultimately enable Nigeria to achieve universal goals for environment and development .
However, under a low emissions scenario, Nigeria is expected to lose one-third of its oil and gas revenue. Yet, the green economy is estimated to be able to create $250 billion in investment opportunities in Nigeria. The sooner the country decides to invest in green growth, the easier and more affordable the transition will be, and the easier it will be for Nigeria to take a leadership role in both international environmental negotiations and the business sector .
To do so, Nigeria will need to create a comprehensive green growth agenda, steered by leaders with the authority to bring together all current government initiatives and resources to make the necessary policy choices and investment, properly informed by accurate data on the country’s reality and potentials. By providing incentives and support to MSMEs and its sizeable informal sector, Nigeria can increase the job creation potential of the sector by promoting green entrepreneurship through eco-innovation and adoption of green and eco-efficient measures and processes. Further, by supporting the larger Nigerian companies that are expanding into other African countries to drive the green economy, through investing in eco-efficiency and eco-innovation, Nigeria could position itself as a leader on the Green Agenda in Africa .
Initiatives and Development Plans
The Medium-Term Economic Growth Acceleration Plan 2021-2025 and the Economic Sustainability Plan (US$5.9 billion) were developed to provide a detailed roadmap for the post-crisis era and promote green growth in the country. Nigeria, through these plans, aims to revitalize its economy by uplifting key sectors that drive the bulk of Nigeria’s GDP. These include non-oil sectors such as agriculture (25% of GDP), manufacturing (9% of GDP) and trade (16% of GDP).
Nigeria also recently approved its Climate Change Bill, which adopts a net zero target for between 2050-2070 .
- The green agenda should be embedded within Nigeria’s development agenda.
- There are numerous unexplored sectors in Nigeria where Green Economy initiatives can be adopted, including transportation, housing, food processing, fashion, and in various manufacturing sectors.
- Nigeria will need to formulate a strategic agenda and policies tailored towards achieving a green economy. This has to be adopted in all identified sectors that drive the Nigerian economy.
- The innovation and entrepreneurial space needs to be better strengthened and empowered through investment in building robust policy and institutional environments as well as in strategic research and development in order to attract domestic and international green investments, especially in the adoption and transition towards circular approaches.
- A Green transition for Nigeria must entail a forward-thinking approach towards unlocking future opportunities in unexploited markets within the green and blue economies. Nigeria should explore innovative measures through research and development in untested waters.
- Increase investment in Renewable Energy.
- Better management of waste. The extended producer responsibility must be implemented by all micro, small, medium, and large producers across board.
- Incentivize the private sector to drive the green economy via the development and adoption of eco-efficient processes and technologies, especially regarding food production and processing.
- Provide Opportunities for Greener MSMEs.
- Build a Green Institutional Framework, with a shared vision, national goals, robust strategy and the mobilisation of all key stakeholders to work in concert to drive the implementation of the agenda.
 Green Economy Tracker, Green Economy Coalition (2022). Nigeria: Africa's waking giant. [Online]. Available: https://greeneconomytracker.org/country/nigeria.