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Ecosystem: Group calls for urgent restoration of polluted Ogoniland, Niger Delta

By Hassan Zaggi

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), civil society groups and its allies have called on the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, begin the restoration of the polluted Ogoniland and the entire Niger Delta region ecosystems within the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030. 
The group made the call in a statement to commemorate the year 2021 World Environment Day with the theme ‘Ecosystem Restoration.’
The United Nations has set aside June 5, every year as a day of shared global reflection and action towards protecting our environment.
The group further called for an  immediate end to gas flaring in order  to restore the Niger Delta ecosystems and also put in place rules that address land grabbing, solid waste management and grant easy access to justice for people and communities impacted by the deleterious actions of corporations.
They also called on the federal government to, among other things, “commit to energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources to reduce the rate of environmental degradation and ecosystem disturbance.
“The Nigerian state, (local, state, and national) to put in place clear policies and regulations that would ensure the sustainability of our ecosystems in line with the United Nations policies on ecosystem restoration by setting achievable targets for implementation.
“Ecosystem restoration work should focus on addressing the actual sources of environmental degradation, so that the removal mechanism does not become business as usual in the continuation of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere.
“End gas flaring to restore Niger Delta ecosystems
“Put in place proper land governance legislation that would enhance proper land use and planning. This will require radical reform or wholesale abrogation of the current Land Use Act which has led to dispossession and caused untold hardship to our communities.
“Set up Community Resource Centers that would train communities to manage ecosystem resources and share local best practices on living in harmony with nature and community based forests management systems that ensures environmental sustainability.”
The group, therefore, warned that, “the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will be a mirage unless concerted and genuine effort is made to provide finance and set targets to reduce the rate of deforestation and ecosystems disturbance by the number and scope of ecosystems restored, improved biodiversity, and ecosystem resilience for the health of Mother Earth and wellbeing of people.”
The statement, however, quoted the member, Bodo Council of Chiefs, and Chairman, Board of Trustees, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Chief Saint Emma Pii, as saying that, “our surest way of escaping the looming danger is to live in harmony with nature.
“Our survival as a species, the survival of other organisms and the future of our planet can be restored if communities are allowed to manage their resources and involved in environmental protection and conservation.
“The clean-up of the polluted Ogoniland will hopefully restored the degraded ecosystems.”
In his comment, the Programmes Director and Administration, ERA/FoEN, Mike Karikpo, Esq., explained that ecosystems are dynamic communities of plants, animals and microorganisms interacting with the physical environment, landscapes, lakes, and oceans.
He, however, lamented that owing to human activities especially since the advent of the industrial revolution and a neoliberal economic ideology that prioritizes profit over sustainability, ecosystems are being degraded at astronomical rates across the world and many ecosystems may have been destroyed irreversibly.
On his part, the Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Dr Godwin Ojo,  insisted that, “restoring the ecosystem will enhance biodiversity, clean polluted rivers and contaminated soil and improve local livelihoods of our people.
“Ecosystem restoration will enhance capacity of our soils and forests to store greenhouse gases rather than the false solutions of carbon capture and storage facilities that do not cut emissions at source and poses grave danger to ecosystems.
“The crucial challenge requires a post petroleum economy through deep transformation in global production and consumption patterns. Therefore, ecosystem restoration requires concerted actions at local, national and international levels focusing on a pragmatic shift towards a sustainable decarbonized development pathway before it is too late.”

Written by ExpressDay

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