ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2012 WORLD ENVIRONMENT
DAY CELEBRATION AT CENTER FOR WOMEN, GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT
STUDENTS, FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, OWERRI, ON TUESDAY, 31ST JULY, 2012
I am honoured to address you on this august and memorable occasion of the commemoration of the 2012 World Environment Day. As you are aware, the World Environment Day, WED, as it is often called, was established by the United Nations General Assembly to mark the start of the UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in June 1972. The Stockholm Conference was the first occasion that world leaders met to discuss the political, social and economic problems of the global environment with view to addressing them.2. The World Environment Day (WED) therefore is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness on the environment and enhances political attention and action. The aim of WED is to: give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership which will ensure a safer and more prosperous future for all nations and peoples.
3. This year’s World Environment Day celebration had the theme “Green Economy: Does it include you?” Curiously, one of the central themes of this year’s Rio+20 Earth Summit on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was also “Green Economy”. But what is Green Economy? A Green economy is described as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In other words, we can think of a green economy as an economic environment that achieves low carbon emissions, resource efficiency and at the same time socially inclusive.
4. In line with the theme of this year’s World Environment Day, the focus of my Ministry as part of Mr. President transformational agenda is the achievement of sustainable development in Nigeria. Sustainable Development id development that distributes its benefits equitably regenerates the environment rather than destroying it; and empowers people rather than marginalizing them. It is a three prong concept which has the social economic and the environmental aspects.
5. Ladies and gentlemen, you will agree with me that Nigeria is rapidly developing socially and economically with the attendant negative impacts on the environment. These negative impacts are the results of deleterious and unsustainable human activities such as incessant deforestation, greenhouse gas emission, poor consumption patterns, unsustainable mining practices, increased population pressure, indiscriminate dumping of refuse, littering and other poor sanitation practices.
6. There is undoubtedly a strong correlation between sanitation and health problems such as malaria, diarrhea, cholera and high infant and maternal mortality. Women and children are often the major culprit just as they are victims.
7. No doubt the environment needs people and the people need the environment. This therefore behoves on all of us especially the women folk to individually and collectively contribute our quota in the achievement of sustainable development in Nigeria by taking advantage of the many opportunities in the environment sector. I call on women to play a leadership role by promoting environmental ethics, reducing resource use, and reusing and recycling the available resources to minimize waste generation.
8. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I know that women, especially the indigenous women, have particular knowledge of ecological linkages and fragile ecosystem management. Women in many communities provide the labour force for subsistence production hence, their role is crucial to the provision of food and nutrition; the enhancement of the subsistence and informal sector; and the preservation of the environment. In certain regions, women are generally the most stable members of the community, as men often pursue work in distant locations, leaving the women to safeguard the natural environment and ensure adequate and sustainable resource allocation within the household and the community.
9. The experiences of women and their contributions to ecologically sound environment is therefore central to the achievement of sustainable development for the twenty-first century. Sustainable development will be an elusive goal unless women’s contribution to environment is recognized and supported.
10. distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I want to challenge members of the Federal University of Technology Owerri, and other research institutions in the country to research and come up with cost effective, practicable and indigenous technologies that will provide cleaner energy from waste for households to reduce indoor pollution and health risk; and convert household biodegradable waste into compost for improved agricultural yield. The federal government is amenable to the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) principle which promotes the segregation of waste at source into recyclables, organic and hazardous with a view to creating jobs, eradicate poverty and ultimately achieved zero waste.
11. I am pleased to inform you that my Ministry through the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has developed 24 National Environmental Regulations. These Regulations which have been published in the official gazette of the federal government are for the purposes of inspiring personal and collective responsibility in building an environmentally conscious society for the achievement of sustainable development in Nigeria. I urge you as individuals or groups to visit the NESREA South-East Zonal headquarters office here in Owerri to avail yourselves of these regulations especially the National Environmental (Deforestation control & Drought Mitigation) Regulations of 2011, the National Environmental (Control of Bush/Forest Fire and Open Burning ) Regulations of 2011, the National Environmental (Soil Erosion and Flood Control) Regulation of 2011 and the National Environmental (Sanitation and Wastes Control) Regulations S.I. 28 of 2009.
1. These regulations prohibits spells out sanctions for individuals and grups on the common practices of littering dumping of refuse in illegal dumpsite, open defecation, illegal and indiscriminate tree felling, bush burning, etc. while encouraging sound environmental management through partnerships, collaborations and strategic alliances
13. Ladies and gentlemen, I commend the center for Women, Gender and Development Studies for organizing this event and the efforts in carrying out tree planting, grassing and sanitation within the University Campus. You are indeed vanguards of the environment. I want to implore other members of the University community and environs and indeed all Nigerians to emulate these gestures in order to adequately protect the environment to ensure sustainable development.
Finally, I also commend FUTO for the good job being carried out in the training of Environmental Health Officer in Nigeria and in the ECOWAS sub-region as well as the support for Center for Women, Gender and Development.
15. I wish you a fruitful deliberation and thank you for attention. God bless Nigeria.