Prof Chukwumerije Okereke, an internationally recognized Climate Expert and an Awardee of the prestigious International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP) Impact Award has trained over 30 youths in Enugu State on Urban Spaces Greening and Climate Advocacy.
The two- day event, which started on the 15th of August and ended on the 16th of August focused on “Climate Change: Science and Policy” on the first day and on the second day the focus was on “Effective Climate Change Communication.”
The recipient of the award, Prof. Okereke took the participants through the selection process of the IVLP participants:
“You cannot apply to participate in the IVLP, participants are nominated and selected annually by staff at US Embassies around the world.
‘The participants are current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields and some notable IVLP alumni include; Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of The United Kingdom to mention but a few.
Speaking on the topic “Understanding the Links between Climate Change and Air Pollution: Causes, Impact, and Solution” the guest speaker, Dr. Daniel Ugwu of David Umahi University of Health Science stated that the link between climate change and air pollution is that both are a product of greenhouse gas emission.
Ugwu said that Improper waste disposal and indiscriminate burning of refuse dump stands are the major causes of air pollution in urban areas
He mentioned some of the solutions to air pollution in our urban cities to include awareness creation, and reviving eco-friendly traditional values and practices, among others.
Prof A. Moneke, Director of the Centre for Environmental Management and Control at the University of Nigeria Nsukka spoke on the topic “Gas Flaring and Air Quality Issue.”
Moneke said that air pollution in Nigeria contributes to untimely death and other ailments and that it will be great if the training of young climate leaders can expand to other parts of the country especially the south-South geopolitical zone where the issue of gas flaring is almost making the area inhabitable.
He said the planting of trees around our environment will make us healthy by giving us oxygen as against the common practice of using concrete slabs that produce heat
Also speaking on effective climate change communication, Dr. Chinwe Ogunji of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ebonyi State and Mrs. Ogechi Nwonye Executive Director of Eco-Cyclers both agreed that the greatest difference between communicating climate change and other science topics is the call to action either explicit or implicit to reduce the effects of climate change.
The experts said that the action can come through climate change education to raise awareness on the impact of climate change and take the lead on how to protect the environment as climate change affect all and sundry.
They said that to communicate climate change effectively, the following tips are helpful:
“Having a grip of climate change.
“Listening to open dialogue, and showing people the link between human activity and climate change.”
During his presentation on the impacts of climate change in Enugu state , Mr Arum Nnamdi, Director of Climate Change Department, Enugu State Ministry of Environment said that the state is being threatened by desert encroachment and if care is not taken through tree planting, the situation may get worse.
He listed some local governments currently battling erosion in the state as: Udi, Nsukka, Igbo Etiti among others.
He said that during the rainy season, some communities in Aninri and Oji River, Local Governments of the state are always affected by flooding.
The highlight of the two days of training was the visit of the new Commissioner for Environment and Climate Change, Enugu state, Prof. Sam Ugwu, who assured the young leaders that his office will be happy to partner with young climate activists on ways to better the environmental condition of the state.
“I will like to work with you the young climate leaders because your activities are part of the core values of the state Ministry of Environment so I encourage you to do proposals to the ministry on areas of collaboration”
Ugwu promised the young leaders that he will ensure that the Enugu state environmental law is passed so that the environmental protection of Enugu state will have strong legal backing.
In conclusion, the Awardee, Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke, said that the next step of the project will include planting trees within Enugu urban area by the young leaders and doing climate change education in selected secondary schools within Enugu city.
Okereke urged the participants to design any campaign on climate action that they would like to run as a way of implementing what they have learnt from the training.
The project is funded by the United States Department of States with Meridian International as their implementing partner.
By Fabian Ekeruche