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Building an ICT-led citizen movement to address some of the Sustainable Development Goals and climate action from the bottom up.



The mass coverage of mobile telephony combined with their fallen costs can be harnessed to solve problems. They can create the leeway for citizens to send Short Message Service (SMS) to a database describing their peculiar SDG problem that may slightly differ from the top-down policy perspective. This can help further define the peculiarity and identify the temporal and spatial scales to which these SDGs can be achieved. For example, a policy measure can be to empower small scale farmers with micro-credit SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) while a more desired societal need can be portable water supply SDG 9 (infrastructure and innovation). The SDGs demand public engagement, not only to nudge governments and businesses to act, but also to generate the broad transformations required to bring the goals within reach. Young people must be meaningfully included in the implementation and evaluation of the SDGs (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2016). In general, local people can make contributions in three types of process linked to the SDGs: realigning local issues to national and regional targets, monitoring progress and taking action.

The growing human populations especially in sub-Saharan Africa and further loss of existing jobs can be tackled using the SDG 8. However, sustainable job creation will hardly be feasible without the enabling physical environment SDG 9 (building resilient infrastructure and foster innovation). Paying sufficient attention to food security and tackling hunger MDG 2 (end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition), can further reduce the need for the over-dependence on healthcare SDG 3 (ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all). The deployment and use of mobile phones to local communities can build the solid network required to establish resilient communities. Involving and tracking progress towards the SDGs requires high-quality, timely and accessible data, often in areas where very little data exists today (West, 2017).


1. Release the power of example and combine actions to achieve SDG goals.

2. Indicators for Sustainability.

What actions do you propose?

1.0 Introduction:

Climate change effects in sub-Saharan Africa can be exacerbated by the growing human populations. The recent loss of existing jobs and means of livelihoods in Nigeria further underscores the need to push for the tracking and implementation of multiple SDGs. The creation of a leeway for citizens to send Short Message Service (SMS) to a database describing their peculiar SDG problem that may slightly differ from the top-down policy perspective can provide the opportunity to kick-start and achieve some of the SDGs. This can help further define the peculiarity and identify the temporal and spatial scales to which these SDGs can be achieved. People and societies may perceive or rank risks and potential benefits from their views, given diverse values and goals, therefore, climate change adaptation strategies will be more successful if they are identified and presented to local users for personalized opinion to ensure their consistency with local priorities, goals and institutions (IPCC, 2014; Ogden & Innes, 2009). However, to realize these SDGs, there will be trade-offs and thinking along the margins.

2.0 Actionable plans for the SDGs

Family sizes in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa are very large on average with a remarkably rapid population growth (Kahn, 2015). Provision of incentives to families will help keep the population on the low-fertility variant. This would provide for more resources in terms of land, water, food and so on per person (SDG 1,2&3). Crucially too, families would be smaller investing more per child in health, education and nutrition (SDG 3&4). Thirdly, there would be a gradual rise in population age with a less rapid growth in population with more of the savings and investment used to raise the amount of capital: machinery, infrastructure, roads and so on SDG 9&16 (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels). The consequent middle-age growth patterns will provide enough decent jobs SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), and further mitigate exacerbating inequalities SDG 10 within our societies. Overall, we need a new systems approach, one that is compatible with social, economic and environmental objectives. This would ensure that governments at all levels stop the endless race against time and against the rising population, perpetually needing to build more schools at great costs, rather than improve the quality of education (Sachs, J.D., 2015)

This proposal looks to achieve this using the Whole System Approach: a process through which the inter-connections between subsystems and systems are actively considered, and solutions are sought that address multiple problems and be restorative. In the context of the loss of natural capital and the loss of resilience of many of the world’s ecosystems, development must be redesigned to not simply harm the environment less but rather to truly be restorative of nature and ecosystems and society and communities (Smith & Hargroves, 2009). It underscores the climate action while attempting to solve the SDG problems. This will be achieved using the mobile user coordinated group to send text messages to the “climate action data base” describing their perspectives of climate effects. This method of quick and personalized information dissemination is advantageous for two main reasons: Early Warning and personalized view of community action. Surveillance and the provision of early warnings is an important component of enhancing the capacity to respond to climate change. Many big data applications have been pioneered for use in early detection, whereby passively collected data from the use of digital services have been variously used. Hazard warning systems, for example, could incorporate social media data to trigger emergency response measures (e.g., heat or flood alert systems

Nigeria, like all other countries of sub-Saharan Africa, is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change especially the coastal low-lying states. Climate change variations between 1990 and 2011 in parts of Nigeria showed visible occurrences of droughts,  floods and overflowing seas for a cumulative period in most of Delta, Edo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kastina, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara states of Nigeria (Ikehi, 2016). Early warning strategies using the mobile technologies as a tool to send messages to the database can help curb economic losses (SDG 1, zero poverty) estimated to be in millions of Naira; mitigate loss of man-hours SDG 1&8, and speedy evacuation of residents to save lives SDG 3.

Furthermore, uncertainties in the onset of the farming season, due to changes in rainfall pattern can lead to a usual sequence of crop failure which results in food shortages due to poor harvests. The erection of dykes SDG 13 along low lying areas exposed to the Increased intensity in rainfall can reduce the proliferation of pests and diseases associated with flooding MDG 3. Pest and crop diseases migrate in response to climate change and variation potentially posing a threat to livestock in the drier northern states of Nigeria (Ikehi, 2016). While floods are becoming more intense, dry areas are becoming dryer. Small areas of streams and small ponds have mostly dried up in many regions due to increased heat waves. Local reporting of these events can help provide information to actors to help prevent further exacerbation in dry areas SDG 13. Altered climate has led to increased poverty level and raised cost of production, thus affecting farmers' hitherto coordinated livelihood (Ifeanyieze, 2016)

The double negative effect of deforestation/loss of carbon sequestration and the burning of fuel wood for domestic cooking with the release of carbon can be mitigated through the mass production of efficient non-carbon cooking stoves SDG 7.

At the COP21, senior advisor to the U.N. secretary-general on climate change, Pasztor urged businesses, NGOs, and other non-state actors and policy makers to form partnerships and increase climate action in a process called the Action Agenda to contribute, and provides a pathway to being well below 2 degrees Celsius (Cardamone et al., 2016). This proposal fully embraces two out of the four areas of improvement proposed by Pasztor: empowering more non-state actors, and making climate change mainstream across SDG agendas.


Vulnerability Assessment: It will be important to carry out a vulnerability assessment for the following reason. Vulnerability research provides essential information for adaptation decision-making by identifying and characterizing who and what are vulnerable to climate change, to what risks, why, and over what time scales. Anonymised records of cellphone use for example, allow the large-scale tracing of people’s movements, and can be used to examine the dynamics of human mobility in a changing climate.      

A. Co-benefits, no-regrets, synergies and trade-offs.

B. Context-specific adaptation.

C. Transformational and Incremental adaptation.

D. Complementary actions.

E. Leadership/champion for climate change

F. Limits to adaptation

3.0 Adaptation: Defined as the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate or avoid harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In some natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects (IPCC, 2014)

For the purposes of this proposal, adaptation priorities include but are not limited to:

i) Improving awareness and preparedness for climate change impacts;

ii) Mobilizing communities for climate change adaptation actions

iii) Finding ways of integrating climate change adaption into national, state, and local government planning and into the plans of universities, research and educational organizations, civil society organizations, the private sector and the media.

3.1 Adaptation for the Health Care System SDG 3: Hotter global temperatures will lead to the spread of more infectious diseases such as malaria and an increase in food-borne diseases. Quality information and robust enlightenment campaigns will help people adapt before any disaster, and after it, by aiding recovery from harm using the mobile platform.

3.2 Adaptation to Water Management Strategies SDG 6: Infrastructure can be designed to simultaneously manage water for hydropower, agriculture and human consumption to further scale up the environmental and economic development of communities.

4.0 Mitigation Strategies: Key measures for attaining the unconditional target include:

i) Establishing 13 Gigawatts of off-grid systems: Investments in wind and solar systems will provide steady supply of electricity. The initial capital layouts of projects more than compensates for status quo. Even though citizens may have to pay more because of the relatively high cost of PV solar panels, students in schools will be able to study better at night and improve learning SDG 4, they have access to more information and become more aware of the climate action SDG 13, ensure savings on food that hitherto would be wasted SDGs 1&2, ensure growth in small and medium industries SDGs 8&9.

ii) Ending gas flaring by 2030 (and collecting this gas for other uses providing twin gains).

iii) Implementing transportation reforms (mass transit systems).

iv) 50% reduction in the use of generators (reducing by half the carbon (IV) oxide emissions)  

4.1 A “social price on carbon”: We shall attempt to put a social price on carbon which must be added to the market cost to reflect the true costs of fossil fuels. Yet even with advances in renewable energy technology, fossil fuels remain cheaper on a market basis than most low-carbon energy sources, and carbon emissions have consequently continued to rise steeply. The crux of the problem is that the market prices of fossil fuels do not reflect their true social and environmental costs, including the costs of climate change and pollution. Incorporating a social price on carbon will increase market prices of fossil fuel derivatives and may make further diminish household incomes. However, this may spiral a push towards low-carbon energy sources SDG 7, which more than compensates for the increased cost of purchasing fossil fuels both at the up and down streams. This will further encourage governments to implement the cap and trade mechanism SDG 13.

4.2 Pursuing an environmentally sustainable intensification and computation of agriculture: Another central challenge is sustainable agriculture and food security. Agricultural intensification is the precursor for economic development (Sachs, J.D., 2015). Food production is often environmentally destructive, causing groundwater depletion, topsoil loss, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution from fertilizers and pesticides, loss of habitat, and declining biodiversity. We address these challenges by pursuing an environmentally sustainable intensification of agriculture – particularly among smallholder farmers and encourage governments to buy out of crops through the reinstatement of cooperatives to ensure food price stability SDG 2. Increased investments in agricultural research SDG 9 shall provide resilience to climate change through water use efficiency SDG 12, and the drastic reduction in losses in the food chain.

5.0 Conclusion

The use of mobile technologies within and across communities will provide the social action required for climate action and decouple the perspectives and solutions from the micro to the macro. From the early reporting of extreme climate events SDG 13 to the provision of improved environmental education through quality education SDG 4, and to the implementation of carbon pricing and the installation of the multi-grid non-carbon systems SDG 7, multiple SDGs can be achieved with a trade-off for SDG 14 in mind. 

Who will take these actions and which types of actors are involved?

Local community participants: the youth, middle aged, old people, University students, high school students and teachers, local artisans, government workers at the states and local levels, businesses and their partners, civil society organizations and their partners, within climate most affected areas of risks and uncertainties will be chiefly involved in taking these actions. Those who lack mobile phones will be provided with smart phones.

Smart phones will be the tool for reporting climate induced actions within and around their communities. Besides climate reporting, short message service broadcasts will also be cascaded from the proposal author via the created short code platform to all users for environmental information and education purposes. This would form the gradual basis with which several community based developments can be built from the ground up. Moving forward, data information and mapping of these communities will help provide, for example, the multi-grid systems for power supply which will reduce by half the use of household power generators that has become common-place for the whole of the country. This will further cut down carbon (iv) oxide and nitros oxide release (mitigation) to the atmosphere; encourage the growth of cottage industries that have long-since become a thing of the past; boost economic prosperity and reduce poverty via the creation of jobs and increase household incomes; improve gender equality; reduce man-hours lost in the search for fuel wood by school children thereby increasing time spent in studying and learning.

It may also be necessary to source for Volunteers from environmental and climate students and proponents. These forerunners will provide the required mentorship and model to ensure active participation in the short to medium term.

The proposal author will play the pivotal role in pooling and referencing SMS message reports from various communities. He will provide the collaborations with local and state political actors to tackle the SDG issues and targets.

Where will these actions be taken and how could they scale?

This proposal is scalable at all levels; individual citizens can unleash the ICT, for community movement and action. Actions will be taken in the most in need communities across states in Nigeria. Wetland riverine areas of the Niger Delta will include: Rivers State, Bayelsa State, Edo State and communities in Northern Nigerian States like Adamawa, Bauchi and Zamfara. This will also help mitigate rural urban migration.

An initial supply of 1000 smart phones will be provided to a selected community. The success of responses received will create the pilot from which other communities and states will be scaled.


In addition, specify the countries where these actions will be taken.


Country 2

No country selected

Country 3

No country selected

Country 4

No country selected

Country 5

No country selected


What impact will these actions have on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

Greenhouse gas emissions reductions 

From a modification of the Ehrlich and Holdren I=PAT.

[CO2 Emissions] (t, x) = Population (t, x) x [GDP/capita] (t, x) x [Energy/GDP] (t, x) x [Carbon/Energy] (t, x). (Schneider, 2006).

Current Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels - Nigeria

2012 figure ~ 474 MtCO2e (CAIT Climate Data Explorer, 2015).

2006 values emissions stood at 463 MtCO2e with land use).

Considering the future

Using The Special Report Emission Scenarios (SRES): (Schneider, 2006)

A1F1: fossil intensive (A1FI)

A1T:non-fossil energy sources

A1B:balance across all sources

A2: self-reliance and preservation of local identities

B1:rich, happy, sustainable world

B2:emphasis is on local solutions to economic and environmental sustainability

Type 1 Vs Type 2 Errors 

Decision  I Forecast proves false I Forecast proves true

Accept forecast I Type 1 error I Correct decision

Reject forecast I Correct decision I Type 2 Error.

The proposal looks to avoid a type- 2 error, when we reject the forecast and it's true.


What are the most innovative aspects and main strengths of this approach?

1. For the first time local communities will be sensitized via their mobile phones on the cumulative effects of their everyday actions that harms the local and global environment. 

2. For the first time, provide a future scenario of climate action. Emission trading, cap and trade and joint implementation.

3. This can help further define the peculiarity and identify the temporal and spatial scales to which these SDGs can be achieved. People and societies may perceive or rank risks and potential benefits from their views, given diverse values and goals.

4. Surveillance and the provision of early warnings is an important component of enhancing the capacity to respond to climate change. Enhance the capacity for rapid response; research and development and environmental training and awareness.



What are the proposal’s projected costs?

Market signals may be adjusted to achieve decoupling, since the market does not compel polluters (low-efficiency producers and wasteful consumers that squander resources of society at large) to bear the full cost of pollution and does not establish prices for ecosystem services. This is particularly the case when pollution is global or at long distances from impacted areas, since political systems then have great difficulty in internalizing externalities. For this reason, successful decoupling will require corrections to faulty market signals, increased political cooperation regionally and globally, and increased public awareness and understanding of the key challenges. Other challenges are: Power supply to ensure that mobile phones are up and running within the communities; governments’ responsiveness to collaborate in the implementation of the SDG; poor education of local peoples to effectively communicate their perspectives and challenges in relation to the SDG target.

Economic costs: This is a small to medium initiative so costs will be incremental as we expand to scale. However, they will comparatively decrease as we reach an economy of scale. 30% of the population still live below the poverty line of US$1.25 PPP (Federal Ministry of Environment, 2015)

The costs detailed below are for the pilot phase:

{Pilot phase} = Provision of mobile phone: 1,000 pieces (to augment for participants without mobile phones)* 3,500 Naira each = 3,500,000/360 = $9,722.22 (at N360/dollar PPP)

Securing dedicated short code with ICT service provider: (2.75 Naira per SMS*2,500,000 expected messages) = 6,875,000 Naira = $19,097.22

Cost of securing dedicated platform for the SDG short messages: $0

Personnel and Over head costs: To be determined

Total Costs: $19,097.22 + $9,722.22 = $28,819.44


About the Authors

Valentine is the budding founder of Partners in Sustainability, a not-for-profit looking to focus on taking climate action and adaptation strategies and tackling the Sustainability problem to raise the quality of life of citizens. As a Nigerian agriculturist and environmental scientist, he is a member of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. He interned and worked with the National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services and the Ministry of Agriculture in Nigeria. He Bagged a Bachelor's Degree in Agriculture (Hons.) from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, an MSc in Environmental Toxicology and Pollution Management from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and a further Masters degree in Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. His recent research focuses on the role of citizen science for ecological data gathering in policy decision making. His work to reduce climate action was bolstered when he got the opportunity to participate in the UN Sustainability Development Goals Youth Leadership Training Seminar (Model UN) at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. In 2016, he was awarded a certificate for the successful completion of "Understanding Climate Change" by the Young African Leaders Initiative. In 1999 and 2012 respectively, he bagged a diploma in Science Laboratory  Technology from the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu and "The Challenges of Global Poverty" from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MITx. 

He has bagged several awards including: Best student: Programming In Basic, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Winner: Federal Government Scholarship, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and Finalist for the Chevening UK Scholar 

His community service spans Earth Hour Nigeria which symbolizes what we can do when the world acts together to deal with climate change, communities and cities, businesses and families, sports clubs and schools working together to showcase climate solutions. He also volunteered with CROW Foundation, a youth outreach program in secondary schools to impart values and norms for a healthy society, collaborating with organizations to assist poor schools in giving.

He is solely involved in the authorship and implementation of the proposal.


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What enabling environment would be required in order to implement this proposal?