STATEMENT ON THE CELEBRATION OF THE 2017 WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY
As we celebrate the World Environment Day 2017, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a Nigerian Knowledge Institution recalls the theme of this year’s celebration is “Connecting People to Nature”. The celebration reminds us that we are part of nature and our development, rights and welfare are intrinsically tied to the health of our planet.
We recall that Nigeria’s National Policy on Environment has a goal to ensure the protection of the environment and the conservation of natural resources for sustainable development. The objective of the National Forest Policy is to achieve sustainable forest management that would ensure sustainable increases in the economic, social and environmental benefits of forest and trees for the present and future generations. Nigeria’s National Water Policy took into consideration a number of key and relevant considerations and we are part of the heritage of the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes and the International Convention to Combat Desertification. Also, Nigeria prepared a National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action for Climate Change as well as the Nationally Determined Contributions to mitigate climate change. Further, we have ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Nigeria like other nations is ravaged by the fallouts of global warming, land and water pollution, destruction of biodiversity, wildlife crime, erosion, desertification, oil spillage into land and water bodies, illegal dumping in natural habitats, unsustainable mining, illegal logging, etc. With one of the highest rates of deforestation and desertification and an ever increasing population, our country can best be described as a time bomb waiting to explode. In the context of these challenges, we recall the duties of the Nigerian State to respect, protect and fulfill environmental and climate change obligations which it has freely undertaken under various national and international standards.
The obligation to respect enjoins governments at all tiers to refrain from actions that pollute the environment and move away from high carbon content led economic growth. There is thus the need to decouple economic growth from carbon intensification. In the obligation to protect the environment, the state is obliged to stop third parties including large corporations, non state actors and its mining and extractive industry licensees from engaging in massive pollution of land, air and water resources through activities such as coal mining and gas flaring. The regulatory function of the state to enforce extant laws like the Mining Act 2007 has been neglected whilst communities are abandoned to their fate of poverty, ill health and under-development.
The obligation to fulfill requires Nigeria to take appropriate policy, legislative and fiscal measures to connect people to mother earth. We note the inadequacy of resources budgeted for ensuring the optimum health of the environment and high carbon content budget vote options that choose the wrong pathway and thereby pollute and defile the earth. Appropriation for the acquisition of nuclear power technology, which is being phased out in some parts of the world is not the best way to spend resources that connects people to nature.
Against the background of the foregoing, CSJ calls on the Federal, State and Local Governments to take concrete and targeted steps to:
- Mainstream low carbon framework strategies in the budgeting system.
- Fully implement and fast track the clean- up of oil spill in Ogoniland.
- Reverse the devastative effect of erosion in the South East.
- Fully implement the Great Greenwall Project in the frontline States of Northern Nigeria while addressing the dwindling fortunes of the Lake Chad.
- Prioritise all programmes, policies and projects of government geared towards environmental sustainability in the allocation of resources.
- Stop the plan and allocation of resources for the development of nuclear power plants and leave coal in the ground due to its massive pollution of air, water and soil.
- Invest public and private resources in renewable energy – a package of targeted incentives has become very imperative.
Finally, we call on all Nigerians to take more interest in matters of the environment and climate change, especially as it relates to fiscal governance and holding the government accountable for its obligations.
Eze Onyekpere, Esq Martins Eke
Lead Director Programme Officer, Environment