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Sunday, April 21, 2024

HOMEF on WED 2015: Restore the environment, build well-being

In its message to mark the World Environment Day 2015, the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) submits that currently dominant humankind’s view of the gifts of nature is at the root of many of the crises confronting the world today

Nnimmo Bassey, Director, HOMEF
Nnimmo Bassey, Director, HOMEF

When future generations look back on our actions today, it is likely that they will evaluate harshly our irresponsible relationship with natural resources. Unfortunately, we will not be granted the excuse of ignorance. Despite access to so much information about the consequences of our consumption patterns, we still consume resources at a rate that is destructive to the planet and the people in it. Today, the world’s population is climbing quickly away from 7 million, and Nigeria’s 170 million people are pursuing this number unrestrained.

Every year, the United Nations sets aside the 5th of June as World Environment Day (WED), to create a tornado of awareness across the world on environmental issues. For each WED, a specific theme is chosen and stakeholders in over 100 countries create a network of positive environmental actions. WED is the vehicle that pools together tiny drops of environmental action to form a mighty ocean to drive environmental policies, campaigns and changes throughout the planet.  The theme for WED 2015 is “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.” The sharp and concise theme is not trivial because beneath the simplicity lies a very important note of caution; we have only one planet and it is our minimum responsibility to curtail our culture of consumption.

This year’s World Environment Day theme could not have been better chosen concerning the state of planet today. We cannot ignore the fact that the well-being of humanity, the environment and economies ultimately depend on ways we manage the planet’s resources.

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) believes that currently dominant humankind’s view of the gifts of nature is at the root of many of the crises confronting the world today, including economic, climate, food and social disruptions. Conflicts continue to rage because of misguided economic ideologies and of power struggles for dominance and for selfish appropriating the abundant but finite gifts of nature.

“Until we see what we term natural resources as actually the gifts of Nature that require a stewardship relationship we will continue on the destructive and obviously unsustainable path,” says Nnimmo Bassey, Director of HOMEF. “Today we call to mind also that the United Nations has declared 2015 the Year of the Soil.  The soil is indeed the base of culture and life generally. Our attitude to the soil contributes immensely to our well-being. Degraded soils support degraded lives. Thus when citizens are forced to live in degraded soils and environments their right to life and well-being is heavily degraded. We only have to think of the pollutions in the Niger Delta, the lagoons of Lagos, abandoned tin mines of Jos and the deadly mining wastes of Zamfara to see the enormity of the problems.”

The thinking that Nature can only be appreciated when she is given monetary value, or when transformed for utility, is a way of thinking that has diminished cooperation and solidarity and has rather built systems of competition, destruction and marginalisation of the powerless. The Earth is a living entity and not an inanimate mineral to be used, abused and damaged. Our contribution to an alternative view is documented in our publication, Re-Source Democracy (available at http://www.homef.org/sites/default/files/pubs/resource-democracy.pdf ).

On this day, HOMEF calls for concerted efforts by the new government in Nigeria to tackle the restoration of our environment as a crucial way of building well-being as well as a new vision of citizenship. A safe environment will help to put Nigerians back to work and kindle the spirit of innovation, solidarity, care, respect and dignity of labour. As we celebrate the World Environment Day, let’s pause and show some care for the Earth and for one another.

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