By Okeoghene Akubuike
Abuja – The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Revd. Adewale Martins, has called on NGOs to take up the challenge of partnering with youths in Nigeria to restore whatever that was lost in the environment.
Martins made the call on Saturday
in Abuja at a programme
commemorating the 2020 World Environment Day and the Fifth Anniversary of “Laudato Si”.
“Laudato Si” is the second encyclical of Pope Francis that called on people of the world to take swift and unified global action against consumerism and irresponsible development, environmental degradation and global warming.
It was contained in a statement issued by Mr Oladapo Soneye, Head, Communications, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF).
The archbishop, also the Grand Patron, Network of Young Catholic Carers for the Environment in Nigeria (NYCCEN), said more than ever before, youths should be engaged to achieve conservation of the environment.
According to him, it will be more encouraging when we see more organisations taking up the challenge to work with youths to restore what we have lost in the environment just like what NYCCEN and NCF are doing.
He expressed his appreciation in the collaboration between NYCCEN and NCF in mobilising the teeming youths to care for the environment, now on the verge of collapse.
Also, the Minister of State for Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, said that faith-based organisations have unparalleled reach and mobilisation power, because of the large numbers of their devotees in every corner of Nigeria.
Ikeazor said she believed that faith-based organisations have enormous potential to influence national and global policy and tip the scales positively on the global movement needed to address environmental challenges.
She added that young people were socially conscious active agents of change, responsible idealists and well versed in technology to combat environmental crises facing the country.
“The Federal Ministry of Environment is working, and will continue to work with youths in our efforts to restore, protect and conserve Mother Nature.
“Most of our ecological interventions are community-based,” the minister said.
Also, Dame Marie Fatayi-Williams, NYCCEN Initiator, expressed displeasure at the rate human activities continued to pose great threat to the environment.
Fatayi-Williams said that this was making the earth one huge dump site, which has become an existential threat for all.
“This is a time to be sorry for our cruelty to creation for our plundering and overexploitation of its riches, consumption habits and lifestyle that had led to the loss of biodiversity, pollution, climate change, disease and poverty,” she said.
Fatayi-Williams applauded the Pope’s ‘Laudato Si’ initiative, which had spurred interest and participation from youths, especially the plastic recycling to bricks.
She said that it would help put money in the hands of the poor and unemployed youths.
Commenting, Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano, NCF Director-General, revealed how the foundation engaged Nigerian youths in 2019 to combat climate change.
, in his presentation titled “All Hands on Deck: Building an Inter-faith Youth Movement for the Environment in Nigeria”.
Aminu-Kano said in 2019, the foundation embarked on a nationwide youths advocacy on climate action which involved over one thousand youths to call for urgent action from the governments, businesses and individuals.
He said that youths comprising secondary school pupils, tertiary institution students, religious groups and civil society organisations (CSOs) were constantly being engaged in environmental education, waste management, beach clean-up exercise, recycling and tree planting.
“NCF is developing Youth Action Manual on Climate Change for youths from ages five to 25 years to guide their efforts,” Aminu-Kano said.
Commenting, Prof. Rosemary Egonmwan, Head, Conservation Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Lagos (UNILAG), said that robust biodiversity and healthy ecosystems were essential in any country for sustainable development and human wellbeing.
“It is, therefore, very important to conserve biodiversity and use its components in a sustainable manner in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“Apart from serving as a source of inspiration, information, tourism and recreation, Nigeria’s biodiversity also satisfies scientific and educational pursuits,” she said.
Also, Revd. (Fr.) Joshtrom Kureethadam, Coordinator, Ecology and Creation, Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development, shared a seven-year action plan of ‘Laudato Si’ Initiative.
Kureethadam said the essence was to make communities around the world to be totally sustainable in the spirit of the integral ecology of ‘Laudato Si’.
The coordinator said that actions would commence from families and run through primary and secondary schools, universities, Catholic Churches, hospitals, businesses, farms and religious groups.
NYCCEN was established by catholic youths who are passionate about the environment.
They engaged other young Catholics in using available means and platforms to campaign for restoration of harmony between man and earth.