James Emejo in Abuja
The Country Director, Mercy Corps Nigeria, Mr. Ndubisi Anyanwu, has said the humanitarian organisation remained committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 50 per cent by 2030.
To this end, he said a set of policy guidelines and initiatives had been unveiled towards achieving the target, adding that environmental sustainability now lies at the heart of Mercy Corps’ strategic decisions.
Speaking at the launch of its maiden Green Week 2023 campaign – which culminated in a tree planting exercise at the Government Secondary School (GSS) Jabi, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Anyanwu stressed the need to carry the youths along in addressing climate change in order to avoid issues with sustainability.
He said Nigeria emitted over 100 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018, representing an increase of about 300 per cent from 1990.
The country director added that while the federal government had made a commitment to cut greenhouse gas by 20 per cent by 2030, Mercy Corps is “joining efforts with the government and committing to reducing our carbon footprint by half by 2030”.
He said, “The Green Week provides us an avenue to accelerate the achievement of this goal, and entrenching environmental sustainability practices within our operations, programme, culture, team members, and individual lives.”
He pointed out that the ambitious climate commitment, through the new Pathway to Possibility strategy, involved the development of a centralised tracking system to monitor and measure global emissions.
Essentially, carbon footprint implies a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation, or community.
However, at the tree planting exercise at GSS, Anyanwu said the week had been set aside to deepen eco-friendly practices within and beyond the organisation.
He said this will “foster environmental sustainability in our youths, get students to nurture the trees and consequently contribute to saving the environment.”
According to him, “Green Week will increase awareness on environmental protection and influence behavioural change amongst team members and beyond.”
He added, “Mercy Corps recognises that its operational and programmatic actions in over 40 countries where it works have an impact on the climate. For this reason, in 2020, Mercy Corps became the first international NGO to undertake a baseline calculation of carbon emissions of its operations and programmes around the world.”
Also, speaking at the occasion, the school’s Principal, Dr. Atanze Sanni, commended the humanitarian organisation for the tree-planting awareness initiative that would have a far-reaching impact on the school and the country in general.
He said, “Now that we have the issues of climate challenges around the globe. Starting now is better. Children are also being educated by the Federal Ministry of Environment on how to imbibe the culture of tree planting and discourage deforestation.
“Mercy Corps has done very well and we look forward to seeing them do more not only for schools in FCT but across the country.”
Also, a representative of the FCT Secondary Education Board, Mrs. Mariam Yusuf, hailed Mercy Corps’ intervention adding that it would help the students understand the benefits of tree-planting in society. He also called on the organisation to scale up its programme to other schools.
Yusuf further disclosed that the FCT has about 80 secondary schools under its supervision.
On her part, Deputy Director, Forestry Department, Federal Ministry of Environment Abuja, Mrs. Olukanni Bosede, simplified the concept of climate change to the barest understanding of the students.
She said, “When you cut down trees, sun rays come to us; when you cut down trees, you are creating greenhouse gasses which are trapping heat into the atmosphere.
“And so how do you stop climate change? By planting trees and that is what we have come to do. When you plant trees, you are mitigating climate change.”
She said, “The oxygen you breathe is from the trees and so when you cut the last tree, the last man would die because the last man would have no oxygen to breathe.
“Do you see the importance of trees? So, henceforth, if you see somebody cutting a tree; tell that person to make sure he or she plants another tree.
“And today, we are planting trees – a round of applause for Mercy Corps for coming to your school to plant trees.”