The World Intellectual Property Day (26 April) was proclaimed by Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to raise awareness on the importance of intellectual property – copyright, trade marks, patents and designs – and celebrate the contributions of creators and innovators. Since the Day was first commemorated 20 years ago, the world has experienced quantum leaps in the fields of entertainment, literature, music science, technology, medicine and commerce.

While humanity has benefited immensely from these advancements, it has also faced mounting challenges brought about as a byproduct of those advancements. The depletion of the ozone layer, increasing global warming, acid rain, ocean plastic waste, water pollution, are some of these byproducts that threaten humans, animals and the planet on which we coexist. On the social spectrum, one may also worry about the ease with which fake and malicious news are digitally manipulated and circulated at the touch of a button. Such abuse of images and social media postings poses a threat to the integrity of traditional knowledge dissemination channels.

There is no better time than now for the world to appreciate the consequences of the daily choices we make in different areas of human life. The COVID-19 pandemic that has crippled virtually all sectors and industries has exposed the fragile ecosystem of the world in which we live and reminds us of the need to use technology, creativity and innovation in a balanced, responsible, human-friendly and sustainable manner. It shows the vulnerability of developed and developing countries alike and how the choices made in one part of the world today could affect and shape our common destiny tomorrow.

The world can no longer ignore the consequences of unwholesome practices and innovations that threaten ecosystems, distort climatic conditions, deplete farm yields and foist untold hardship on people. The way out is to subscribe to environment-friendly innovation. This should be complemented by increased investment in green technology to achieve a low-carbon future for our world.

Despite the apocalyptic prognosis about the ongoing pandemic, the global response to it has been reassuring that humanity is able to use its collective power of creativity and innovation to overcome the challenge. Here in Nigeria we are proud of the early indications of possible solutions in our traditional knowledge systems.

Nigeria must continue to harness its rich diversity of traditional knowledge, and through a careful infusion of the modern intellectual property system, provide both positive and defensive protection for its traditional knowledge. With intellectual property, it can unlock its vast potentials and empower more communities to become global players in the fields of science and medicine. As the world marks this year’s IP Day, we urge academics and researchers to look inward and provide empirical support to help refine, validate and propagate our traditional knowledge for the benefit of humanity.

A green future should be one that also guarantees the protection of the nation’s biodiversity and the sustainable use of appropriate innovation, including traditional knowledge, to find simple, safe and sustainable solutions for daily challenges in health, wellbeing, food, shelter and environmental safety. This would complement Government’s ongoing efforts at self-sufficiency and the vision for Nigerians to “grow what we eat and consume what we make”.

The 2018 Global Innovation Index released by WIPO forecasts that by 2050, 85 percent of the world’s primary energy needs would be derived from renewables, such as solar, wind, and geothermal power. Countries are therefore encouraged to develop policies that support renewable energy. Fortunately, Nigeria is well endowed and it is already taking steps towards boosting the country’s performance index in the field of green technology.

Everyone should embrace the campaign for a green future. The Commission will continue to give institutional support as part of a national strategy for a balanced and robust intellectual property system that works for the wellbeing of the earth and the benefit of all.

On this occasion of the 2020 World Intellectual Property Day, stay well, keep safe and have a wonderful celebration.

Thank you