Fossil fuels in our ocean waterways remain a major environmental issue in our world today, and the Niger Delta region cannot be left out of the talk on the global practice for sustainable development.
The Niger Delta in Nigeria is the largest wetland in Africa and the third largest mangrove forest in the world. The region is widely known for its richness in biodiversity and abundance of crude oil and natural gas resources.
This large wetland ecosystem supports a wide variety of life, including the mangroves and diverse species of flora and fauna.
The inhabitants of the Niger Delta community depend on the aquatic resources for their livelihood and food.
Today, this ecosystem is seriously deteriorating from the impacts of crude oil and natural gas pollution, rising human populations, uncontrolled deforestation, unsustainable development, and weak governance.
The government is completely aware of the present menace of oil spill pollution and gas flaring in the area and has done little to address the issue.
The need for environmental action both at the local and governmental levels is paramount because the Niger Delta is home to 30 million people who depend on it.
Rather than appropriately managing the area, the government has exploited it for foreign exchange, national budget revenue, and power.
To remedy the negative consequences of exploitation, potential solutions must be sourced out and implemented, such as the practice of sustainable development, ocean conservation, ecological restoration, renewable energy consumption, and the establishment of environmental agencies.
In the search for potential solutions, everyone has a role to play, including the federal government, the elected representatives from this region, their rural leaders, ordinary citizens, and, especially, the Youth.
The government has a big role to play in protecting the lives of future generations and this involves responsible planning and environmental conservation through the establishment and enforcement of agencies; agencies that will monitor pollution level in the wetland communities.
In addition, the elected representatives and stakeholders from this region need to ensure that laws are enforced to help preserve the marine environment. These laws include areas, like sustainable oil and gas explorations and poverty alleviation.
Furthermore, the rural leaders should help inculcate sustainable lifestyles into the community to build local awareness, action, and support.
Activities, like the collection of water-bound plastics, is a great way to involve the community in a valuable environmental effort that will have an immediate and direct impact on the region.
Other possible community efforts include: demanding plastic-free alternatives, reducing carbon footprint, avoiding ocean-harming products, eating sustainable seafood, voting on ocean issues, and contacting lawmakers on sustainable policies.
In a bid for Climate and Environmental Justice, Sustainable Development must be practiced by everyone on the globe to keep the present and future generations safe, and also to keep our ecosystem balanced.
The United Nations has tagged 2021-2030 the decade of “Ocean Science and Sustainable Development,” and the #COP26 also focused on greenhouse gas emissions cuts.
Therefore, there is a need to join hands to actualize these goals.
This is a call for a global movement.
Ikem-Nwosu Promise is a 200-level student of Marine Environment and Pollution Control at Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State
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