By Mike Omeri, Ph.D


The earth as it is, is currently experiencing extreme effects of global climatic adjustments.

Several global citizens, experts, institutions and governments continually express this concern as the opportunities to do so arise at various fora. Furthermore, it has remained a major issue in world politics and policy discourses from Cape to Cairo, Paris to Mexico.

While activists and green movements see the threat as a form of revenge by the environment and nature itself, others tilt to the other extreme which is to doubt and downgrade the effect and impact of climate change on the eco-system, without giving any thought to the depletive ways humans relate with the earth.

The frenzy or passion of response to these climatic adjustments is largely dependent on some sort of political enthusiasm. In some climes, there is a passionate response to the climatic changes as evidenced in the several actions and interventions to reduce the world’s seemingly fast paced ageing process. Sadly, other climes remain oblivious, refusing to consider the
apparent environmental degradation. One wonders if those before us, reincarnated, would recognise this same earth: so brown, so bare!!!

The cause of this environmental crisis is not hidden far away in the endangered forests and deserts, it constantly stares us in the face as we go about our businesses on a day to day basis. Man’s insatiable quest for comfort, industry and technology, style and modernity have resulted in innovations and breakthroughs which have driven mother Earth to a place of revenge.

Radiation and radioactive emissions; waste, specifically, electronic sector waste; oil spills and countless forms of degradation continually pose threats to the environment at large. The toxins and toxic nature of the component parts of electrical materials and other dangerous human activity are harmful and calamitous in their after-effect.

The global community is responding in diverse ways and Nigeria has also developed and deployed strategic responses that suit the Nigerian market. The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) is responsible for implementing and enforcing compliance with approved guidelines and standards for reforms in the industry.

NESREA works in partnership with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and has attracted an incredible level of support from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). This partnership has birthed one of the most concerted responses which I have found – the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) awareness plan and strategy which NESREA is implementing in different forms and contexts, though ambitious and would appear strange to citizens because of an age-old culture of being attached to possessions as well as a flagrant blindness to the needs of the environment.

These all point to the fact that nature’s gifts and endowments have been and are still been taken for granted by human beings. This could be why seemingly little actions of environmental neglect are seen as just a mere part of life while in reality, these acts of indifference speed-up the gestation of environmental decadence.

While human activity and behaviour continue to impact the environment negatively, constructive concerted efforts could cushion the effects of the impending climatic revolt. It would appear that science seems to present a more practical assessment of the future of the Earth as we know it. Religion also explains that human beings have been entrusted with the responsibility of caring for the earth seeing that the earth and everything in it including human beings, belong to God the creator.

Based on trust and confidence, every rightful owner expects appointed custodians to act responsibly and provide adequate care for all things in his/her custody. Are humans proving to be responsible trustworthy custodians of the earth?

This and related questions appear to have provided the inspiration for the choice of a theme for this year’s World Earth Day, which is, “Restore Our Earth”. As our planet faces new and ever worsening threats resulting mainly from human activity, the need for conscientious custodianship becomes a moral imperative.

It is in the light of this urgent necessity that NESREA, a citizen-appointed custodian of the trustees in Nigeria (about 200 million people), under the firm guidance and leadership of its present management led by Professor Aliyu Jauro, plans to launch a citizen-driven high impact initiative where everyone will be users and protectors of nature’s gifts.

NESREA intends to roll out a series of strategic citizen engagement initiatives targeted at creating an effective community volunteer program driven by an eco-economic plan that is essentially focused on behaviour modification for both Manufacturers, Consumers and Citizens.

“Product take-back policy” and the establishment of collection and recycling infrastructure would ensure that the treasures in the circular economy are unearthed for the purposes of national economic gain, personal benefit to citizens, integrity of usage and environmental safety.

One of the current challenges we face is a lack of capability to protect the environment from harm. However, effective monitoring of set standards for manufactured products or those imported into the country will synchronise the recycling technology while minimising exposure to un-recyclable e-waste items under the Expanded Producer Responsibility (EPR) watch. This multi-effect strategy would require both public and private support and involvement where community buy-in and corresponding action will lead the conquest over the looming climate attack against humans who carelessly degrade it.

The NESREA initiative will enthusiastically create a corporate culture that suits environmental needs and communal socio-cultural tendencies largely because of awareness and competitiveness. Hopefully, communities will aim for high points and ultimate prizes where everyone is a winner in the battle to save its kind, kith and kin, flora and fauna where ultimately, the environment wins.

The strategy of “Action-Benefit-Action-Awareness- Initiative” (ABAAI), can galvanise a national mood and feeling of participation and ownership, all within the context of recycle, re-use, protect and take back all forms of trash that can lead to an end of the environmental terrorism perpetrated by ignorance and indifference.

Citizens would need to accept and transit from being nonchalant and entitled to outmoded, out of use, worn-out waste to a place of relating constructively with the environment without prompting and threats of sanctions. I believe deliberate actions of care will go a long way in upholding nature and its wonders as gifts to humanity, even if just for the sustenance of life, heritage and generational blessings. Producers and importers of toxins either by acts of ignorance or greed must be made aware that this present danger actually consumes everyone either slowly or brusquely causing intense pain to all.

We can only continue in our indifference if there is an assurance that we have another earth!


Omeri is former DG National Orientation Agency And UNEP Communications Consultant to NESREA ON GEF Project

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