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Environmentalists Galvanize Support For Climate Action In Nigeria

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Environmentalists and stakeholders in the environment sector of the Nigerian economy have reiterated the need for young people to actively participate in the fight against climate change in the country.

The stakeholders who spoke in unison, made the observation on Thursday in Abuja at a public presentation and launch of a new book on climate change.

The book entitled, “Understanding Climate Change: A Guide for Secondary Schools in Nigeria”, was published by Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation (GIFSEP) with support from Global Environment Facility, Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP).

GIFSEP is a non-profit organization founded on the ideals of environment education, climate change adaptation and mitigation, renewable energy and sustainable development.

The GEF-SGP is implemented in Nigeria by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to support activities of non-governmental and community-based organisations

Climate change has been identified as a leading human and environmental crisis of the 21st century. Already, thousands of people are suffering from the catastrophic impact of climate change on agricultural production and food security in Nigeria, and other parts of the world.

Meanwhile, higher temperatures, the drying up of soils, increased pest and disease pressure, a shift in suitable areas for growing crops and livestock, increased desertification, drought, floods, deforestation, and erosion which are all signs that climate change is already happening and represents one of the greatest environmental, social and economic threats facing the world.

Moreover, the impact of climate change will fall disproportionately on the world’s poorest countries, including Nigeria. Vulnerable and poor people already live on the front lines of pollution, disasters, and degradation of land and its resources. For them, adaptation is a matter of sheer survival.

As far as development is concerned, according to experts, climate change will have a strong impact on Africa’s ability to achieve the Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs) and on its policies in general.

Executive Director of GIFSEP, Mr. David Michael Terungwa said although children and youths are among the most vulnerable to the effect of climate change, they must not be left passive or helpless victims, adding that through education and practical actions, students can contribute to every aspect of climate change awareness, adaption and mitigation. 

Mr. Terungwa noted that empowered youths and children can reduce their vulnerability and that of their communities and also contribute to environmental stewardship and sustainable development.

“There is therefore an urgent need to educate the future generation on the science of climate change and build their capacity towards practical application of the theories of climate change as well as local mitigation and adaptation strategies.

“This book, therefore, serves as a guide for teachers and students to increase students’ awareness, knowledge on climate change and environmental issues as well as to encourage and demonstrate the essence of collective measures in the fight against climate change. This brings us to the slogan: catch them young”, he said.  

He also disclosed that prior to the publication of the book, his organisation’s capacity building programmes for students to address climate change in schools, included the establishment of environmental clubs in 70 senior secondary schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with activities such as the training of Eco club patrons and matrons, planting of over 2000 trees in different schools across the FCT, recycling, as well as solar for schools.

National Coordinator of GEF-SGP, Mrs. Ibironke Olubamise urged participants at the event to prioritize the preservation of the earth which, according to her, is the bedrock of human existence. 

“I implore everyone here today to please think of the earth as our very foundation of existence, which it really is and that should the earth (forests, air, waters etc) disappear today, what will happen to human beings. This should motivate us to take actions necessary for us to preserve natural resources for us and our future generation.

“You students have a better opportunity to make greater impact in environmental management. You are full of energy and brains to challenge the status quo, ask questions and push for a better and sustainable management of our resources, through your actions and innovative ideas. The reason is because your future and achievement of all your lofty ideas depend on this.

“I therefore challenge you to take up individual and collective actions to ensure this book is in the hands of every student. I bet you that we adults will allow you if you rise up in genuine desire to make a difference. As it is said, the earth will always make room for the one who has a great vision”, she added.

Mrs. Olubamise reaffirmed her organization’s commitment to supporting environmental initiatives, adding that it is their considered opinion that  part of the solution lies with empowering the children.

“This is why the GEF Small Grants Programme has supported the production of this book and will keep supporting this project until the entire nation is covered. SGP remains committed as long as your intentions are genuine and you are ready to learn, you will always have our ears and get our support. I am personally inviting creative ideas to address environmental issues and I promise every great effort will receive my utmost support”, she further explained.

A climate activist and a representative of Nile University Abuja, a member of Honoris United Universities, Mrs. Albert Makyur harped on the need to empower young Nigerians with a view to motivating them to join the fight against climate change.

Mrs. Makyur said students who are at the verge of becoming ambassadors of climate change should endeavour to create more awareness about climate change by talking to their parents about safeguarding the environment.

“So as you go out today ensure that you create that awareness, talk to your neighbours, talk to your parents, friends and take the message to wherever you go.  Take good care of the environment, it belongs to you and you belong to the environment”, she stressed.

Similarly, the Head of Department of Science Technology and Mathematics, Secondary Education Board, Mr. Uko Waltek said the impact of climate change is becoming increasingly intense by the day, adding that it is imperative for every one of us to do something about it.

Mr. Waltek, who represented the Chairman of the Board, Alhaji Musa Yahaya Mohammad, however pointed out we are currently not doing well enough for the environment.

“In life everything is reciprocal, if you treat the environment well, the environment will, in turn treat you well. So I want urge everyone of us to ensure that we treat our environment well, so that the environment can also treat us well. Our students have learnt a lot of things about climate change and they should go and tell their parents about it”, he added.

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