In September 2015, over 150 world leaders came together at the UN Sustainable Development Summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is a bold new commitment to end poverty and promote shared prosperity around the world. The Agenda breaks down to 17 individual Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Beyond setting goals, however, the Agenda also seeks to mobilize the means for their achievement, by advocating for a public-private partnership model.
Proud to answer this call, in February 2018, Eni signed a Collaborative Agreement with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to foster access to safe and clean water in Nigeria, both for domestic use and irrigation purposes, by drilling boreholes powered by photovoltaic systems. The Agreement aims, primarily, to contribute to humanitarian interventions for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities impacted by the North East-Lake Chad crisis. The insurgency, since its outbreak in 2009, has led to unprecedented levels of population displacements in the region, and severe disruptions to agricultural, livestock and fishing activities.
The FAO-Eni collaboration responds specifically to the request of Nigeria’s Federal Government to Oil and Gas Companies to support efforts to alleviate the plight of victims of the insurgency in region. The “Access to Water” Initiative, involving the provision of water to several impacted communities, is the first initiative being implemented under the FAO-Eni collaboration. Although the initiative supports all the 17 SDGs, it is more specifically focused on Goal 1 (ending poverty); Goal 2 (ending hunger); Goal 6 (ensuring availability and sustainable management of water, and sanitation for all); Goal 13 (combating climate change); and Goal 17 (establishing multi-stakeholder partnerships in support of the overall achievement of the SDGs).
With reference to Goal 17 in particular, the FAO-Eni collaboration is an example of the sort of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) envisaged by the 2030 U.N. Agenda for Sustainable Development, as an essential tool for driving the realization of the SDGs at the local level. Elaborating further on this, at the signing of the Agreement, Alberto Piatti, Eni’s Executive Vice President for Responsible and Sustainable Enterprise, said: “Public-Private Partnerships allow institutions to leverage on the skills of the private sector, and help companies to respond to development needs identified by institutions. They are an opportunity to enhance the role companies can play in sustainable development”.
As a result, under the terms of the Collaborative Agreement, FAO provides support in identifying the areas of intervention for the wells, technical expertise and know-how in the targeted areas, as well as training on water management and sustainability. Eni is responsible for drilling the boreholes and providing them with photovoltaic power systems.
The FAO Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Suffyan Koroma, at the same occasion, said, “the North-East is not strange to FAO. Our interventions in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the three states most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, have helped Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), in camps and those returning to liberated communities, including host communities, to return to their farms and pick up the bits and pieces of their lives again”.
He went on to commend the federal government of Nigeria for supporting the “Access to Water” Initiative, stating that the FAO-Eni Collaboration Agreement would certainly enhance efforts to rebuild livelihoods in the region. It would also pave the way, as the insurgency ebbed out, for intervention strategies to transit seamlessly from humanitarian to developmental.
The FAO has had an official representation in Nigeria since 1978, though its activities in the country date back to the 1950s. The organization, working with relevant ministries at the national and sub-national levels, has provided strategic support to national development programmes, and to strategies aimed at reducing poverty, improving food and nutrition security, and natural resources management.
Eni has been present in Nigeria since 1962 with both onshore and offshore activities. This project is part of Eni’s sustainability efforts in Nigeria, which include activities relating to agricultural development, access to energy, health, training, environmental protection, as well as specific initiatives for stakeholder engagement in local communities and promotion of transparency.