WED: United Nations Highlights Benefits of Nature, Sustainability

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  • Oil community decries erosion effect

Abimbola Akosile in Lagos and Sylvester Idowu in Warri

With the theme of this year’s World Environment Day – ‘Connecting People to Nature’ – aimed at highlighting the well-documented physical and mental health benefits of being in nature, the United Nations has flagged the vast benefits of such engagement, from food security and improved health to reliable water supply and climatic stability.

In a video message on the Day, commemorated annually on 5 June, the Secretary-General António Guterres, said, “This is our environment. It is the keystone of a sustainable future. Without a healthy environment we cannot end poverty or build prosperity.”

Pointing to land, water oceans, forests, and “the air that we breathe,” the UN chief reaffirmed that everyone has a role to play “in protecting our only home,” including using less plastics, driving less, wasting less food and “teaching each other to care.”
“On World Environment Day – and every day – let us reconnect with nature. Let us cherish the planet that protects us,” he concluded.

The World Environment Day is the largest global day for positive environmental action. This year, the main celebrations were hosted by Canada. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said thousands of people across six continents joined massive clean-ups of beaches and parks. The Day’s theme encourages people to simply ‘get back outdoors’.

The 2017 edition of the Day coincided with the opening at UN Headquarters in New York of The Ocean Conference, the first-ever high-level global meeting on conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

The 2030 Agenda resolves “to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources,” in particular, the Agenda’s associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 14 and 15 focus on respectively conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources and on protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of land ecosystems.

Billions of rural people around the world spend every working day ‘connected to nature’ and appreciate their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature support their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil. They are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation.
Meanwhile, oil-rich Kokodiagbene in Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State has raised the alarm that erosion is sacking their community.

Consequently, the inhabitants expressed fear that the community might soon be washed off and that there won’t be anywhere known as Kokodiagbene on the map of Warri South West Local government and Delta State as a whole.

Chairman of Kokodiagbene, Sheriff Mulade raised the alarm at a sensitisation programme to commemorate the World Environment Day put together by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ).

He enjoined the Federal, Delta State Governments, and intervention agencies to come to the aid of the community and save the people of the area from being sacked by erosion.

Mulade recalled that Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), aware of the threat of the erosion to the community, awarded a contract for the reclamation of the community in 2002 but it was abandoned since then.

“This great oil and gas producing community is being washed off. Where we are to save the community from extinction was awarded by NDDC in 2002 but was abandoned. It was re-awarded and abandoned again thereby leaving the people and community at risk of extinction.

“The community waterfront has been washed away. The entire community is being pushed back because the main island of the community has been washed away”, Mulade who doubles as the National Coordinator of CEPEJ lamented.

One of the elders in the community, Pa. John Olloh, a retired Army Colonel, appealed to governments at various levels to come to the aid of the people by reclaiming their land.