Youth for the Environment
By Elujulo Opeyemi
CoalitionWILD 2018 Ambassador
Knowing that it took until 1830 to cross 1 billion people in population always gladdens my heart, as I imagine how green and beautiful the environment would have looked in those years. However, a population figure of seven billion today, coupled with environmentally degrading practices and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources has shown how damaging we can be to our environment and the natural resources we depend on for life.
Nigeria (910,770 km2) is blessed with diverse resources, including fisheries, wildlife, timber, medicinal plants, mineral resources, water, ornamental and food crops. However, todays Nigerian environment faces many ecological challenges that have arisen from its attempts to meet the demands of the most populous nation in Africa. Each of the geo-political zones in Nigeria now experience unique challenges.
For instance, the Northern zones are struggling with desertification, drought and increasing incidences of flooding. In the South, flooding, and sea level rise are common, while flooding and deforestation persist in the South-West. Gully erosion is prevalent in the South-East. As climate uncertainty grows, these issues not only undermine the nation’s development efforts, but threaten Nigeria’s advances towards sustainable development, poverty alleviation, and overall socioeconomic well-being of the people.
These realities made me realize that I had to do something for future generations of the Nigerian people and wildlife.
I needed to speak to more listening ears, put seeds in the hands that love to plant, and mentor youth to ignite a ripple effect, and build communities. As such, I decided to start Youth for the Environment with a keen interest in raising young conservation ambassadors and environmental enthusiasts, to promote youth involvement in conservation, and to organize environmental education, afforestation trainings, climate change awareness programmes, green clubs in schools, and interschool green debate and quiz competitions among high school students.
With passion, commitment, and sacrifices, we are walking the distance, and have an impact.
My hope is to see Nigeria and the world at large become resilient, to see more youth getting involved in conservation and environmental protection, and to ensures that generations to come enjoy at least the same benefits and beauty that our environment offers.