Communities are best placed to monitor their forests because they live in the forests, depend on forest resources and readily notice threat and changes that occur in such forests. Citizens' monitoring of forests is imperative if our last remaining forests are to be protected from being destroyed through illegal logging or under the banner of infrastructure politics.
The committee was at pains explaining to the two agencies that, in carrying out their work, they must understand that the critical baseline is the interest of Nigerians and our environment and not that of any commercial or political interest- no matter how powerful. The two agencies could not convince the expert committee that they had enough tools to adequately carry out their tasks. Among other things, the committee also saw that NABDA was functioning more as a GMO advocacy agency rather than engaging in useful research, while the Biosafety Management Act itself requires urgent radical review.
The Nigerian Bar Association in Edo State and HOMEF held a stakeholders meeting on the National Biosafety Management Act (2015) in Benin City. At the end of deliberations, they raised critical issues and concerns with regard to GMOs and the Biosafety Management Act. They also brainstormed on the increased aggressive push of the biotechnology companies in partnership with their local collaborators in Nigeria to ensure favourable legislations as a step towards unleashing their products and commodities on Nigerian. They cited several fault-lines in the permissive NBMA Act requiring that the entire Act be urgently reviewed and the GMO permits issued withdrawn.
The forest communities and other threatened communities of Cross River State, Nigeria, have won a significant victory. The order of the Cross River State government revoking ownership of land extending to 10km on either side of the proposed 260 km Superhighway has just been reversed or “de-revoked” as the community people call it! Besides the threat that the alignment of the proposed highway poses to communities, protected and community forests, one very peculiar and alarming aspect of the project was the revocation of ownership of lands lying within 10 km on either side of the proposed superhighway.
The controversy surrounding the 260 km Superhighway proposed by the Cross River State government (CRSG) of Nigeria will not go away. Notably, the bulldozing of forests, farmlands and sundry properties commenced last year without an approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Curiously, the government issued an edict dispossessing individuals and communities of lands lying within an incredible 10 km width on either side of the proposed superhighway.
An inheritance can be wasted, squandered, damaged, diminished or destroyed. In the ideal situation, an inheritance should be held with a sense of stewardship, with the knowledge that it would be inherited by subsequent generations. This sense of stewardship includes the responsibility to bring about improvements on the inherited artefacts. Overall, the future of what is inherited depends mostly on the disposition of the inheritor. This is the person that decides whether to preserve and handover to the next generation or to squander and waste what was inherited... In our cultural worldview, when we say uwem edi imo (life is wealth), monetary consideration is not part of the equation. True wealth includes a sense of health, wellbeing, solidarity and happiness.
HOMEF sees the appointment of Amina Mohammed, the Minister of Environment of Nigeria as the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, as a validation of her clear focus and universal commitment to the common good – and especially to the environment. Within the short time of her being on the seat as the environment minister, she worked tirelessly on many fronts including efforts to get the implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoniland a reality. HOMEF congratulates and sends our very best wishes to her as she assumes duty at her next position. Her time in the Ministry of Environment has shown that this is one sector where concerted efforts can be holistically made for the benefit for all Nigerians irrespective of which part of the nation they reside in.
Regarding the Ecuadorian Government’s Move to close Acción Ecológica, a grassroots environmental justice organization in Ecuador is an assault not only on a national movement for ecological justice, defense of nature and indigenous peoples, but on the environmental justice movement globally. Acción Ecológica recently celebrated 30 years of solid work that has inspired organisations, networks and movements around the world. They are key players in Oilwatch International and were first to host its secretariat for 10 years from inception in 1996.
They are pioneers of the #KeepItInTheGround struggle and radical thinkers in the struggle for the rights of Mother Earth. HOMEF is in full solidarity with Acción Ecológica as they struggle for our peoples and for a safe planet. Read their statement on the renewed assault on their liberties.
This ‘high caliber’ group of scientist came to their conclusion by, and I quote: “The academy’s stance was informed by existing evidence from the industrialised countries, which have carefully followed laid-down principles for such activities.”
One must then question the relevance of the Academy of Science. Especially scientists that are not even curious to research the works of several scientists that have highlighted the ills associated with GMO food consumption. GMOs have been in circulation for over 20years and there is good reason why they are still enmeshed in so much controversy...
Why is NAS a stakeholder in GMO? Are they not supposed to be an independent organisation responsible for helping the advancement of science and technology? Does their stakeholder position not introduce some sort of bias favouring GMOs already?
Women from the Niger Delta communities met on November 22 and 23, 2016 to debate and discuss the implementation of the UNEP report and the clean up process in Ogoniland and other Niger Delta communities. They went to the meeting with samples of polluted fishing nets, polluted water and congealed crude oil from their communities. It was a safe space for women to learn, exchange and debate the political and practical dimensions of the clean up in Ogoniland and to act as a collective towards the implementation of the emergency measures recommended in the UNEP report. They also strategized on ways to ensure adequate and effective representation of women in the clean up processes.