FOREMOST environmental rights advocacy organization in Nigeria, Environmental Rights Action (ERA), has resolved in their top-level meeting in Benin City, the capital of Edo State, to pressure their Federal Government against jumping into the green economy bandwagon.
The meeting was held ahead of this 2012 World Environment Day billed for Tuesday, June 5.
AkanimoReports gathered that the group which also doubles as the country's wing of Friends of the Earth, resolved to engage top-level decision-makers against any form of ''Green Economy agenda''.
ERA is of the view that the agenda is driven by ''profit-only organizations'' that allegedly do not recognize the rights of local peoples to democratic control of their resources.
They also resolved to rally environmental rights groups in Africa, against the agenda. This is likely to be their main campaign issue at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development otherwise referred to as Rio+20 scheduled for June 20-22, 2012 in Brazil.
Chair of the Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) and Executive Director of ERA, Nnimmo Bassey, says the environmental rights advocacy group is interested in ensuring that the outcomes of the Brazil confab promotes sustainable development by upholding the rights of Africans.
Insiders hinted AkanimoReports that at the Rio+20 conference, world leaders and thousands of participants from governments, the private sector and civil society groups, will come together to shape how the world can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection.
They said it is incontrovertible that Nigeria join the rest of the world in transiting from a fossil-fuel based economy, but that the Green Economy as currently promoted by the UN is simply “nature for sale”.
The moving spirits of ERA are arguing that the UN push is a radical departure from the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio which underscored the concept of sustainable development as a major plank for addressing environmental challenges, taking the social and economic aspects into consideration.
Insisting, Bassey said, ''it is very instructive that the Nigerian government does not jump into the craze of a GE which is nothing more than commodification of nature and the rights of local communities to democratic access to land, water resources, finance infrastructure, among others. We reject an agenda dictated by transnational corporations''.
He noted that it was unfortunate that Nigeria and other African countries, rather than demand the countries of the global North take responsibility for the social, economic and environmental impacts of their extractive activities, have opted rather to buy into false solutions proposed by such countries such as the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation(REDD) which allows polluters buy their way out of reducing their greenhouse emissions at source by supposedly conserving forests.
“We insist that the GE as proposed does not recognize the fact that local people are the guardian of land and must live within environmental limits, even as he added that the agenda fails to hold those responsible for the world’s environmental crisis liable for ecological rehabilitation.
“It is unfortunate that so-called solutions are now in the hands of the same corporations, who, through their “green” investments, innovations and technologies have worsened the problems they claim to solve through privatization, commodification and financialization of nature and ecosystem functions.”
Bassey pointed out that the GE ignores critical issues facing Africans and Latin Americans such as food, water and seed sovereignty and refuses to confront the real causes of unemployment and rise of militarization in the context of resource scarcity and unequal power relations.
“On the occasion of this year’s World Environment Day, we reject the corruption of the term sustainability and urge the Nigerian government to throw its weight behind efforts at weaning the world off fossil fuels, but not based on a GE that serves only the interests of the multinationals thus worsening poverty and leaving out sustainable challenges. Nigeria must take the lead in Africa by siding with the community voices,” Bassey posited. ENDS