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Marking World Environment Day

Last Sunday, June 5, 2016, the international community marked the World Environment Day (WED). The day is usually set aside to create global awareness about environmental problems facing the world. Since 1973, World Environment Day has been celebrated as an annual event to raise the global awareness on the importance of healthy and green environment in the human lives, as well as to make everyone responsible for saving the environment. It is one of the principal vehicles employed by the United Nations (UN) to stimulate worldwide awareness of the environment while calling for political attention and action.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “fight against the illegal trade in wildlife”. It focuses on saving the life of wild animals like elephants, rhinos, gorillas, whales, sea turtles, orangutans, pangolins, rosewoods, helmeted hornbills, tigers including other species. The most important purpose of WED is to take strong actions to restrict illegal trade of wildlife, which is putting the biodiversity of the planet into danger. It would be noted that the campaign started as part of addressing the huge environmental issues like wastage and losses of food, deforestation, increasing global warming and others. Moreover, the occasion reminds people all over the world on the need to change destructive negative habits towards environmental issues, even as it encourages them to make their surroundings safe and clean.
In Nigeria, the war against environmental degradation has been moving at glacial pace, while the vast majority of people continue to engage in practices that endanger the environment, tourism and livelihood. For example, those living in coastal communities have continued to use dynamite and cyanide for fishing, thereby wreaking havoc on fragile marine ecosystems, even as Illegal logging continues despite several deadly floods and landslides resulting from deforestation.
It will be recalled that the United Nation Environment Programme, (UNEP), in a recent report stated that many of the earth’s ecosystems are nearing critical tipping points of depletion or irreversible change. Basing its findings on the high population growth and economic development, it said that if the current trend of consumption and production remain the same coupled with a population, expected to reach 9.6 billion in 2050, the earth would need three new planets to sustain our current wasteful ways of living. There is no gainsaying the fact that a healthy environment is a key factor for sustained economic growth. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s environmental laws have not substantially moved forward. We are yet to effectively and appropriately meet the three core functions of environmental laws, namely: preventive, compensatory and remedial functions. Furthermore, our environmental governance is still seriously challenged by problems of unequal inheritance in federalism, insufficient public participation, and lack of cooperative governance. The resultant effect is that environmental decision making, standard setting and enforcement strategies are operating in chaos.
This is why we are calling on the National Assembly to enact legislative and regulatory action to promote an effective environmental programme. We hope that  World Environment Day will be  a good time to remind Nigerians that natural resources are finite, that this planet can only take so much abuse. Therefore, the citizens  should care about the environment before food sources are depleted, health care costs soar due to air pollution and  take care of our towns and cities before they are overrun by garbage.

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