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CSDevNet strengthens the Adaptive Capacity of Niger-Delta Women and Youth

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The Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet), Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) together with African Activists for Climate Justice (AACJ) and Natural Justice brought a special workshop on “Strengthening The Adaptive Capacity of Niger-Delta Women and Youth on Climate Change” to the city of Port Harcourt on 23rd November, 2023.

In attendance were representatives of CSDevNet, resource persons, indigenous farmers, community women delegates, youth representatives and several civil society organisations.

While giving his opening remarks, the National Network Coordinator of CSDevNet, Mr Steve Abuh welcomed everyone present and stated the purpose of the workshop and the necessity of a critical approach in addressing the climate change crisis and demand actions at the local, state and national levels.

Making reference to the UNFCCC Conference of Parties and the 2015 Paris Agreement, he highlighted the need for more communities in the Niger Delta to amplify their voices regarding the deplorable state of the environment in the region ranging from the incessant gas flaring activities from oil exploration, the release of poisonous gases into the atmosphere, to the pollution of water bodies and the destruction of farm lands and livelihood of several indigenous people.

Speaking on the “Concern For Environmental Rights of the Niger Delta Region”, Barrister Michael Keania Karikpo (Programme Manager, Nature Justice, Nigeria) took the participants on an enlightening journey in understanding the role of the law in protecting and strengthening environmental human rights defenders in Nigeria.

The various environmental protection policies available in Nigeria were highlighted and their individual impacts discussed.

In expatiating on the policy and legal instruments for the protection of Environmental Human Rights Defenders, Barrister Michael noted that there are no laws in the country that directly protect environmental rights defenders and this poses a lot of limitations on the entire process of holding the governments accountable.

However, reiterating that environmental rights defenders are stewards of nature and the environment and are as such workers for God, Barr. Michael reminded participants that we have a responsibility to take advantage of all available legal frameworks that could help bring about more impact such as FIDA, Human Rights Commission, the freedom of Information law, Center For Oil Pollution Watch, NNPC and NBA Spidel, among others.

Delegates from vulnerable communities and civil society organisations that work in such communities in Rivers State were afforded the opportunity to channel their questions to the resource persons and were given practical answers and steps to take in present day Nigeria that would ensure better impact.

The complication and vulnerability of the Niger Delta region was further discussed as one of the major issues in Nigeria’s negotiations at COP28 and beyond.

With the destruction of the livelihood of millions of indigenous people living in these regions by industrial oil exploration activities, there is indeed a dire need for climate justice and necessary actions that must be taken to enable the proper flow of climate adaptation.

As the workshop rounded up, all participants gave a call to relevant bodies in the country to take action to secure the future of our environment and the ensure sustainable development.

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