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Youth for Environment in Nigeria

Elujulo Opeyemi 
Youth for Environment, Nigeria and CoalitionWILD Ambassador 2018, @Env_Reform. Originally posted by CoalitionWILD,
Knowing that it took the world until the year 1830 to record its first billion people always gladdens my heart, as I imagine how green and beautiful the environment would have looked in those years. However, a population figure of seven billion as of today, coupled with eco-degrading practices and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources has shown how damaging it could be for our environment and the natural resources upon which human survival depends.
Nigeria, with its total land area of 910,770 square kilometres, is blessed with diverse resources, including fisheries, wildlife, timber, medicinal plants, mineral resources, water, ornamental and food crops. However, the Nigerian environment today faces many ecological challenges that have arisen from our attempts to meet the demands of the most populous nation in Africa. Each of the geo-political zones in Nigeria now experiences unique challenges. For instance, the North-East, North-West and North-Central zones are suffering with desertification, drought and increasing incidence of flooding. In the South-South zone, flooding, and sea level rise are common, while in the South-West flooding and deforestation are issues, and in the South East, gully erosion remains a challenge. All these have not only undermined the nation’s development efforts, but also threaten the country’s advances towards sustainable development, poverty alleviation, and overall socioeconomic well-being of the people, even as climate uncertainty grows.
These realities made me realize that I had to contribute my part if future generations were to have a friendly environment to support their existence, and if wildlife is to survive the current practices that cause extinction, while destruction of their habitats intensifies.
The realization of my role in the environment as its manager made me realize that I had to speak to more ears that listen, put seeds in the hands that love to plant, and mentor more students and youths, to ignite a ripple effect, as they themselves teach others what they have learnt, and compete healthily among themselves. My decision to found Youth for Environment, Nigeria was with a keen interest in raising young conservation ambassadors and environmental enthusiasts, to promote youths involvement in the sustainable environment and conservation strive, through organizing environmental education, afforestation trainings, climate change awareness programmes, establishing green clubs in schools, and coordinating interschool green debate and quiz competition among high school students. Although, such decisions come with hurdles, they also come with passion, commitment, and sacrifices: we are walking the distance, and making anticipated impacts.
My hope is to see the Nigerian environment and the world at large become resilient and on a sustainable path, to see more youth getting involve in conservation and environmental protection, and to ensure that the generations to come enjoy at least the same benefits and beauty that our environment offers.