The Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu has called on all stakeholders and citizens to redouble their focus on attitudes and practices that will protect the ecosystem if the country wants to achieve sustainable development.
The minister said this at the maiden edition of the 2022 Environmental Sustainability Conference, Expo and Awards (ECOSEA), held at the Shell Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos last Wednesday, 2nd November 2022.
The minister who was represented by Otunba Olufemi Olayemi Odumosu, Managing Director/CEO, Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority, Abeokuta, explained that In recent times, the earth’s natural system has been struggling to keep up with man’s unending demands in terms of food provision, clean water, medicines, climate regulation and protection from extreme weather conditions, hence, the urgent need for the human race to collectively act against further anthropogenic emissions of gases, as this not only hurts the earth, but everyone living in it because a healthy environment is essential for our continued survival and the achievement of all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Speaking on the event’s theme, ‘ Only One Earth: Towards a Safer Environment’ the minister further added: “Many people do not understand why we need to worry about the environment. They say that our major aim must be creating economic growth and jobs and that the green (environmental) agenda must take second place.
“But, the environment is really the whole planet on which we live. Everything -winds, trees, animals, insects, people, etc- forms part of the living system of the earth. For example, trees are important because they make oxygen which helps us breathe. If too many trees are cut down for firewood or furniture, this reduces the amount of oxygen going into the earth’s system. Over time, this can have a very bad effect on people and animals. These are some examples of what is happening to the earth because it has been exploited and not protected. So, it is important to protect the environment from being exploited, and this is the reason people refer to the term, Sustainable Development, which means using the world’s resources for development in a way that ensures that future generations can do the same.
“We all have a responsibility to protect and use the environment in a way it will remain protected for us, our children, and our grandchildren.”
Also speaking on the same theme in the second Keynote presentation, highly respected environmentalist, Desmond Majekodunmi, Chairman, Lekki Urban Forest and Animal Shelter Initiative (LUFASI) spoke in a more dramatic manner. His words, “We are in the midst of a crisis. Global warming, climate change, and the devastating loss of biodiversity are the greatest threats that humanity has ever faced.
“The climate crisis really is a genuine emergency and tackling it is utterly essential. What good is all the extra wealth in the world, gained from ‘business as usual’, if you can do nothing with it except watch it burn in catastrophic conditions?
‘’Humanity is waging war on nature. It’s suicidal. Nature always strikes back – and it is already doing so with growing force and fury. Biodiversity is collapsing. One million species are at risk of extinction. Ecosystems are disappearing before our eyes …Human activities are at the root of our descent toward chaos. But that means human action can help to solve it.”
Majekodunmi took time to dissect the country’s environmental challenges and shared available options to tackle them.
Earlier, in his welcome address the convener of ECOSEA, Joshua Ajayi stressed that the event is the first step in an exciting journey he believes will continue for many years into the future. After formally thanking everyone present at the event he described as a convergence of stakeholders in environmental sustainability in both the public and private sectors, as well as development agencies in the sustainability space, he took time to highlight the goals of the annual conference.
According to the convener “Our goal for ECOSEA is to create an annual platform that would steadily become the largest foremost thought-leadership platform that champions the cause of environmentally sustainable actions in Africa.
“We also want to create an aspirational space people will gather annually to showcase innovative and environmentally friendly products, services, and initiatives. We equally want to be the most prestigious recognition platform for champions of environmental sustainability in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa while serving as a tool of inspiration to others”.
Three different panels of discussants dissected various issues on environmental sustainability and about 26 awards were handed out to deserving players in the environmental sustainability space.
Selected environmentally friendly brands also exhibited their products on the stands. About 26 active players in the sustainability space were recognized for their outstanding performances in the last 12 months. They include Access Bank which carted home the Award For The Most Outstanding Company In Environmental Sustainability, Coca-Cola that captured the Award For The Most Outstanding Beverage Company In Environmental Sustainability, and Standard Chartered’s Accelerating Zeros Campaign that won the Award For The Eco-Friendly Brand Campaign Of The Year Others are the Award for the Most Outstanding Agency in Environmental Sustainability won by Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), and the Award for the Most Outstanding Conglomerate in Environmental Sustainability won by Dangote Group among others.