Director, Centre for Climate Change and Development, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ebonyi State, Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke, has charged young climate activists in Enugu to aspire to be champions in their field of advocacy.
Okereke gave the advice at the International Visitors Leadership (IVLP) Impact Award in Enugu, the Enugu State capital.
At the hybrid event that was monitored virtually, 30 participants, including nine female activists, took part in the competition leading to the award.
The award was tagged: “Impacts of the Urban Greening Training, Education and Advocacy”.
Okereke reminded the participants of the huge media coverage of the just concluded COP28 in Dubai, UAE, especially on the issues of fossil fuels and emissions.
“I hope that you will continue to be leaders in this space; deepen your activities to go further and higher.
“Become superstars on urban greening and climate change based on the kind of exposures and motivations you have derived from the training.
“I see a lot of African voices that are being promoted by the global media to become champions in their space and they don’t have two heads,” Okereke said.
He noted that the interactive teaching sessions the participants had been exposed to gave them the opportunity to prepare their own campaign plans.
Ogechi Nkonye, the Executive Director, Eco-Cyclers, remarked that the topic for the project, Urban Spaces and Greening, had been an eye opener for everyone.
“When we started this project, we were not expecting the type of momentum and commitment by young people from Enugu applying.
“At first, we had to choose about 15 persons from those who applied, but because of the magnanimity of Okereke, we had to increase it to 30.
“The programme was very successful, it was not just a talking shop but we had some practical aspect of it.
“We brought an expert from the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, to help us to test the quality of air from two different locations in Enugu.
“We planted about 35 trees in Enugu Metropolis; we also took it further,” Nkonye said.
She said that, through the project, a community of young climate change agents were formed.
Nkoye added that the community looked forward to a state-wide tree planting exercise to combat deforestation in the Enugu metropolis.
She expressed gratitude to the US Department of States that gave the award to Okereke and also to the awardee himself for his passion in raising young climate change activists, not just for Nigeria, but also for Africa.
The participants were grouped into three, A, B and C, with group B emerging as the winner, followed by A.
Group B wrote its proposal on: “Community Tree Planting and Fight Against Deforestation: Sustainable Solutions for a Greener Future”.
Okereke said: “The winners goes to Group B because they have the clarity of objectives. They want to plant 2,000 trees in Enugu State.”
Recall that the participants underwent a few days training in August, on Urban Spaces and Greening, in Enugu, which built their capacity to pitch on climate advocacy.
The event was put forward by Okereke in partnership with the Society for Planet and Prosperity, Centre for Climate Change and Development and Eco-Cylers.
By Fabian Ekeruche
First published in www.environewsnigeria.com