Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Three Nigerian dons on Nobel Prize-winning UN panel

Three Nigerian dons on Nobel Prize-winning UN panel
From Laolu Akande, New York
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NIGERIA is sharing in the honour of this year's Nobel Peace prize.

This is so because two Nigerian professors from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, have been identified as active contributors and authors to the work of the United Nations (UN) Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC), which won this year's Nobel Peace prize alongside former United States' Vice President Al Gore.

A third professor had also been active in working out the detailed process of producing the UN convention on climate change, which is closely linked to the work of the Nobel prize-winning IPCC.

They are Professors Segun Adegbulugbe, Francis I. Ibitoye and Felix Dayo, all of who have been associated with the Obafemi Awolowo University at different times in their academic careers.

Adegbulugbe actually spoke at last month's UN summit on climate change attended and addressed by heads of states, including President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.

A UN official at the UN Spokesman's office in New York, Yves Sorokobi, disclosed that over a thousand experts drawn from UN member-states and nations outside the UN had been involved over the years with the work of the IPCC and the names of some of the contributors were listed on the panel's website.

The panel has been formed and has been producing reports about two decades ago with none of the experts receiving pay for their work. Specifically, the panel has produced in the main four Assessment Reports-AR- numbered AR1, AR 2, AR 3 and AR 4.

According to a recent statement made by the IPCC secretariat in Geneva reacting to the announcement of the Nobel prize award, the honour goes to all scientists and authors who have contributed to the panel's work. The Nobel prize was given specifically for the panel's AR 4.

The statement reads: "The awarding of the Nobel Peace prize to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (jointly with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore) is a remarkable testament to the dedication and commitment of thousands of experts and participants who have produced the panel's rigorous and comprehensive assessments of climate change research.

Chairman of the panel, Indian Rajendra Pachauri added: "This is an honour that goes to all the scientists and authors who have contributed to the work of the IPCC, which alone has resulted in enormous prestige for this organisation and the remarkable effectiveness of the message that it contains."

Confirming his participation, Prof. Segun Adegbulugbe, a former presidential adviser on energy under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration said in an email interview that he had been involved in IPCC work for over a decade now. Adegbulugbe was identified as a lead author and expert on the IPCC.

"I contributed to the second, third and fourth assessment reports. In addition, I have contributed to two other special reports of the IPCC,"he said, adding that the Nobel prize award acknowledge "the work of many great minds who work tirelessly on IPCC publications. I learnt a lot from working with these guys."

He observed also "the hard work of the secretariat for coordinating the work of so many people. I am surely delighted to have made my small contribution and for the Nobel Committee to recognise our work."

In his own response, Francis I. Ibitoye, Associate Professor at the Obafemi Awolowo University's Center for Energy Research and Development in Ife, said none of the over 600 experts that produced the AR 4 of the IPCC "had it in mind that the IPCC was going to be a Nobel Prize winner."

But he noted that the Nobel prize has a recognition of IPCC's excellence, relevance and contributions.

He was involved with Prof. Adegbulugbe as authors in third volume (Climate Change 2007 Mitigation), a part of the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC, which was recognised by the Nobel prize committee for the prize.

According to Ibitoye, "while Prof. Adegbulugbe was a coordinating lead author in chapter 4 (ie. energy supply), I was a lead author in chapter 11 (mitigation from a cross sectoral perspective)."

Ibitoye also served as lead author in another publication of the IPCC, that is the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.

Prof. Felix Dayo, the third Nigerian expert to be associated with the IPCC work, said he was not as directly involved as Adegbulugbe and Ibitoye, but he also contributed actively to the work of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, (UNFCCC), while it was in process. The UNFCCC, as an international treaty had adopted the first assessment report of the IPCC as the basis for negotiating the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Prof. Dayo contributed to that process.

All three, Adegbulugbe, Ibitoye and Dayo are associated with the OAU in Ile Ife and the university's Centre for Energy Research and Development.

Adegbulugbe was the immediate Special Adviser to the President of Nigeria on Energy Matters between 2005 and 2007. Before then, he was the Director of the Centre for Energy Research and Development, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife between 1992 and 2005. He was educated at both the Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, U.S.A.

Ibitoye is currently Associate Professor at the same centre at the OAU, while Dayo formerly of the same OAU is now partly based in the Pittsburgh, U.S, where he's Adjunct Professor of Engineering and Public Policy at the famous Carnegie Mellon University and also the CEO of Triple E Systems Associates in Lagos, Nigeria.

This article was taken from the online version of The Guardian Newspaper.

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