The pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for natural resources management is a global priority, yet challenges persist amidst diverse economic circumstances and population growth. This prompts a vital question: How can we leverage digital innovation and entrepreneurship to drive national-level growth in natural resources management? Recognizing the urgency to transcend conventional approaches, today's youth, increasingly inclined towards entrepreneurship and technological skill acquisition, represent a valuable resource. Their capacity building offers the potential for goal-oriented solutions that not only foster economic growth but also contribute to the conservation and preservation of our natural resources. This leads us to a pivotal question: How can we harness the power of digital innovation and entrepreneurship to stimulate growth at the national level towards natural resources management? A dialogue between Temitope Adelola (Conservation Catalyst), and Oluwashina Peter (Founder- Gateway).
Temitope: Can you tell me about yourself, your background, and your organization?
Oluwashina Peter: My name is Oluwashina Peter, founder of Gateway. I have a background in Forestry and over 6 years of experience in the technology and entrepreneurship space.
Temitope: What initially sparked your passion for Technology, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and more?
Oluwashina Peter: As a student back then in Forestry, I had friends from the engineering department, and I observed their work and how it could be commercial. So, my drive for technology was accidental. Also, in Forestry, I was introduced to courses like Geographical Information System, which further ignited my interest in technology. I've always had a desire to do more and be commercial, and this led me to the world of technology and entrepreneurship.
Temitope: How would you define digital entrepreneurship in your country?
Oluwashina Peter: Nigeria is entrepreneurship-driven, particularly by young entrepreneurs. The government's stability is currently a challenge, and opportunities from the government to leverage the potential of the youth are limited. As a result, young people are drawn to small-scale entrepreneurship and are exploring how digital technology can help enhance their products. Entrepreneurs are thinking outside the box to create opportunities for themselves, and digital entrepreneurship has become a key driver in the country.
Temitope: If your country is to achieve sustainable development goals in the natural resources sector, how do you think digital entrepreneurship, capacity building, and innovations can make a difference in unleashing potentials?
Oluwashina Peter: Currently, people, especially the youth, are not primarily focused on conservation. Youth are inclined towards entrepreneurship, and to bring them back to the conservation realm, we need to find a way to merge economics and conservation. This means allowing young people to make a meaningful life while also achieving conservation goals. Otherwise, individuals tend to focus on what gives them personal fulfillment. To fast-track conservation through technology, we can use young people as catalysts and make education more engaging.
Temitope: In your experience, what are some of the most significant challenges faced in achieving digital entrepreneurship for upscaling natural resources projects and economic growth thus far?
One of the major challenges is human feelings. People's preferences change, and to make them stick to your products, you must consistently capture their interest. Otherwise, people change, and changing their feelings and preferences can be quite challenging.
Temitope: What are the lessons learned over time that could benefit people coming up in this field?
Humility is key. Always be ready to learn new things. Even with a strong background, there's always something new to discover. I recently had to learn from someone else because there were new innovations in the field that I was not aware of. So, staying humble and open to learning is crucial.
Temitope: What do you wish you would have known in terms of this topic before now and could be useful to share with other professionals?
Oluwashina Peter: I wish I had paid more attention to the carbon market. While my education covered various aspects of forestry and technology, I feel that more exposure and experience in the carbon market would have been beneficial. I was always looking for opportunities to commercialize and make an impact through technology, but I didn't gain enough expertise in this area due to lack of exposure. It's never too late, and I'm now exploring this field to contribute more effectively.
Temitope: Which piece of information on this topic do you feel is currently missing?
Oluwashina: I have a question for you, Temitope. Given your consistent engagement in the forestry space, do you see Nigeria achieving its carbon goals in the next two years?
Temitope: Achieving carbon goals is a global effort, and while Nigeria is a part of it, achieving these goals in the next two years is unrealistic. The country is currently more focused on economic concerns, and solutions in the conservation and carbon space need to provide win-win solutions for all stakeholders. Nigeria has a huge population, with youth needing realistic solutions. Education and practical solutions are still needed to make meaningful progress.
Oluwashina: Thank you for the opportunity to be here, and I look forward to the chance for us to make a more significant impact in the future.
Thank you for taking the time to read. Please don't hesitate to share your thoughts and comments below. How do you envision the role of technology in the realm of conservation and its impact on economic growth? Any story from your country?