Bassey addressing participants at the academy...recently.
Maduabuchi Ubani writes that as weather patterns across the globe appear fiercer and more unpredictable, a charity upped its game to save the mother earth
From time immemorial, the earth has played host to millions of species alongside animals through natural resources, oxygen and other life supporting agents, and man by every means has benefited from the abundant resources at his disposal. But over the years, man has become involved with activities that does not only threaten to annihilate the environment that he lives but also spell doom for him. It is noted that man is the only animal that unduly exploits and deliberately destroy the surrounding from which his life depends on. These activities have brought about an alarming situation that threatens the core existence and survival of the globe. Yes, today the world may be reaping the fruits of technological advancement but not without a price. That price is the alarming climate change that now threatens the very existence of human being. So the exploitation of nature continues to be a source of worry for everyone.
And Africa has become the most exposed region in the world to the impacts of climate change. Indeed, studies have also revealed that in agriculture, as much as nine to 20 per cent of Sub-saharan Africa’s arable land will become much less suitable for farming by 2080. In Sub-saharan Africa, extreme weather will cause dry areas to become drier and wet areas wetter, including the agriculture yields that will suffer from crop failures which will bring about new altitudes spread of diseases.
Factually, environment is no doubt the theatre of life which everyone is part of and anchoring on this, a non-governmental organisation, Health of Mother Foundation (HOMEF) which acts as an ecological think thank aims to connect the sectoral dots in its struggle for a safe, sane and secure environment in which human can live in solidarity and in dignity.
Through an inclusive forum for stakeholders to protect the environment, HOMEF has over the years engaged relevant stakeholders to help care for the environment.
Taking participants along the same path recently at Afe Babalola Auditorium within the precinct of mass communication department at the University of Lagos, HOMEF organised its inaugural Sustainanbility Academy with the theme “communicating climate change and the looming food crises.”
The former Ambassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nation, Pablo Solon who spoke at the inaugural Sustainability Academy described global warming as the fever of the earth, stating that the first milestone to be achieved in Africa is for people to truly understand the situation with prepared mind for its dos and don’ts.
He cited example of the year 2000 flooding in Mozambique which cost the country an estimated $550 million and lowered the national GDP by 1.5 per cent as a tip of the iceberg of rising unspeakable events that are going to take place in Africa if the menace of environmental exploitation is not properly addressed.
“What we have at hand is a delicate matter because environmentalists have notified those who care to know that by the year 2030, it is expected that 90 million more people in Africa will be exposed to malaria,” he said.
Pablo listed ways climate change should be confronted in Nigeria to include adoption of real solutions. For instance he advocated efficient and affordable public transportation to reduce carbon monoxide emission into the atmosphere, implementation of food sovereignty which will enhance food diversity and complete stop gas flaring.
“ just like most people in the rural area conserve and revere nature, we also really have to go back to that relationship with nature and strike a balance, not only because are we part of her but because our future is dependent on her survival,” Pablo advised
With questions on how solution to climate change can be part of day- to-day life of an average Nigerian, the Executive Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey pointed out that although people can decipher that there has been change globally but the real issue is for them to understand the real cause of it and until there is a common knowledge on what and who caused the problem, then it is quite doubtful if the issue can be solved.
Delivering his speech which centered on figuring climate and food links, he analysed the importance of effective communication which according to him will address the issue of climate change and looming food crises as well as assist in preparing a strategy for action.
And reeling out targeted audience that plays major stakeholders which include communities, youths, social movement and faith based groups, Bassey called for active engagement of policy makers and the business community to truly fathom the historical roots of the crises to tackle impending food loses.
“we have the seed for the growing of national as well as pan-African movements for ecological justice. These must be deepened, expanded and linked with the global wave of movement taking its stand on this. It is the right time to place the ecological question in the hearts of our political debates and plans of action.
“It is time to take a clear stand and fight for change based on the empowerment of our people to defend our patrimony, ensure justice and uphold equity. We must jointly act to break the transactional relationship with nature by exploitative forces.” Bassey said.
While tasking journalists to move beyond their known straight news reporting for maximum impact, a senior lecturer at UNILAG’s mass communication department Dr Abigail Ogwezzy- Ndisika praised HOMEF for its work in engaging young minds who are the leaders of tomorrow on topical and educative issues of environmental conservation and protection.
“These are all roles which the media generally has to play and it is in terms of public education and sensitisation, because in most cases important things get missing. Most people are doing what is called activity based reporting,” she said.
And having successfully completed other sessions in Abuja and Benin City respectively, those who participated in the academy agreed that awareness campaigns on climate policies and actions should be intensified; that Nigeria should reject the introduction of GMOs into the agricultural and food market; leave at least two thirds of fossil fuel reserves under the soil and seek alternative / sustainable sources of energy; ban the exploitation of natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, agree to a climate regime with legally binding provisions; promote local production and consumption of durable goods and that Nigerian government should reject all false solutions to climate change such as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).