By Eric Ojo, Abuja
The Global Initiative Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation (GIFSEP) in collaboration with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Secondary School Education Board, at the weekend hosted a groundbreaking Environmental Festival in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital city.
The event which was tagged: “The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Environmental Festival”, was organized as part of the Fridays for the Future (FFF) global action day.
The Fridays for the Future is an international movement of school students and young people demanding actions from government and multinationals in order to prevent further global warming and climate change.
Publicity and widespread campaign for the movement began after Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thumberg, staged a protest in August 2018 out the Swedish Parliament.
In the light of this, the 20th of September has been set aside globally by students, youths and organizations to demand that their government should take more drastic action in curbing climate change.
As part of its capacity building programmes for students to address climate change, GIFSEP with the support of Global Environment Facility – Small Grant Programme (GEF-SGP) established environmental clubs in 20 secondary schools in the FCT in 2017
GIFSEP said in a statement made available to Metro Daily Nigeria that this project has enhanced the adoption of environmental conservation practices among students in secondary schools in FCT.
“Over time, the 20 environmental clubs across the FCT have engaged in different activities to promote environmental sustainability in their schools and the society at large. The students and teachers have become green champions and environmental advocate”, the statement added.
Remarkably, for taking climate actions, the Environmental Club of Government Science and Technical College (GSTC) Garki, has emerged as winner of the 2019 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award.
The Ambassador of Conscience Award which was founded in 2002, is Amnesty International’s highest honour celebrating individuals or groups who have shown unique leadership and courage in standing up for human rights.
Interestingly students from the award-winning GSTC Garki were also amongst the participants from other secondary schools in the FCT that took part in the GIFSEF facilitated Environment Festival on Friday in Abuja.
There were series exciting and thrilling drama presentations, songs and poems with environmental themes rendered by the students. Similarly, the festival equally featured students from the Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Abuja. The Uniabuja students also made presentations at the colourful event.
The highpoint of the event was when the students and other participants were asked to write a letter to their representatives at the National Assembly demanding specific climate actions from them.
The letters were swiftly written by the participants and collated on-the-spot for onward distribution by GIFSEP to the recipients on behalf of the participants.
Speaking at the occasion, the Special Guest of Honour, Fanny Nylander, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Sweden in Abuja, said she was extremely delighted to be in the midst of Nigerian youth as they join the rest of the world in marking a global event.
“I feel highly honoured to be with you today. I was extremely happy when I was informed about this event. This is a global movement and I am glad that youth of Nigeria is taking an active role in it”, she said.
Shortly after her remarks, she led the students and other participants in the recitation of GIFSEP’s Environmental Pledge. She also thanked the organizers and everyone present at the event.
While answering questions from journalists, the Swedish envoy noted that climate change is a huge challenge to the world, adding that it is very important to take collective responsibility to protect the environment for the common good of humanity.
She said the Swedish government is responding to climate change issues by working closely with stakeholders around the world. Nylander added that Sweden is working with civil society groups in Nigeria and hand-in-hand with the Nigerian government as well in this regard.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Aliyu Sadiq, president of the Department of Geography and Environmental Management Students, University of Abuja and Coordinator of the Citizens Climate Lobby, University of Abuja Chapter, urged the students to ensure that they take climate actions in order to make the environment sustainable for their future.
“You all should take it as a challenge to take climate actions. The world needs students to ensure a sustainable environment. Our voice is strong. We must do this collectively”, he stressed.
Also in his welcome address, Mr. Joseph Ibrahim, Programme Manager GIFSEP, said the event is significant because it gives students the opportunity to join their counterparts in other parts of the world to demand climate action from policymakers, legislators and political leaders.
In his words, “Today is very significant day because at the end our voice will be heard. Policymakers and political leaders will take climate action”.
In his closing remarks, Mr. David Michael Terungwa, Executive Director GIFSEP, said the teachers from the participating schools within the FCT have been so committed and supportive since the inception of the programme.
Mr. Terungwa noted that it would have been an impossible mission without the teachers, who according to him, have been consistently guiding, training, encouraging and preparing the students for the task.
He therefore thanked the teachers and the students for their cooperation and contribution to the successful hosting of this year’s FCT Environmental Festival.
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