“Let there be peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace in the nations of the world.” It was the refrain of a popular Peace Song by Onyeka Onwenu seeping through the expansive event hall of Oshodi-Isolo Local Government Area of Lagos State.
On the day, the sonorous tune set the tone for an event aimed at engendering global peace, even as guests took their seats. The peace move, according to the organisers of this year’s International Day of Peace, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) and Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), an NGO, in Lagos recently, was not to appease belligerent forces primarily, but one expedient in sustaining global peace through mitigation of climate change impacts.
Hence, it was a gathering of diplomats, politicians, environmental rights activists, security operatives, civil servants, National Youth Service Corps members, representatives of workers’ unions and secondary students that were sensitized about the looming danger posed by global warming and the need for concerted effort in stemming the menace.
Interestingly, this year’s International Day of Peace, which had the theme, Climate Action for Peace, went beyond rhetoric to explore variety entertainment to drive home the message.
First to sound a note of warning on climate change impacts was CEPEJ’s founder and national coordinator, Sheriff Mulade. In his welcome address, he drew attention to the near extinction of Lake Chad and how it has left those who derive their livelihood from it in despondency. He also blamed the incessant farmers/herders clashes in Nigeria and across West Africa on loss of farmlands and grazing fields to drought caused by climate change. To this end, Mulade called on stakeholders to intensify advocacy against climate change impacts on Nigeria and the world in general.
While outlining measures being sought by CEPEJ to further the campaign, the environmental activist identified media advocacy, education and collaborations with concerned stakeholders in the fight against global warming within the ecosystem.
On his part, the director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Mr Ronald Kayanja said the fact that this year’s International Day of Peace coincided with the just concluded 74th Session of the UN General Assembly which convened a climate summit as one of its debate sessions only underscored the urgency to mitigate climate change impact as panacea for global peace.
According to Kayanja, failure to address the issue in the coming decade may be more devastating than weapons of mass destruction. The diplomat urged world leaders to take a cue from a report by a world-leading scientific body, Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, which recommended 1.5 degrees centigrade global average temperature for human existence. As steps toward achieving that, Kayanja urged a drastic reduction in green house gas emissions, public education and enlightenment, tree-planting, and human mobilisation for climate action through debates and dialogue.
The UNIC leader’s address also opened a floodgate of paper presentations interspersed by dance, drama and a slide presentation of the success story of CEPEJ by its manager, corporate communications, Mrs. Victoria Ajayi.
Meanwhile. three officials from the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources spoke extensively on the need to involve women and the girl-child in decision-making on issues concerning global warming. They also urged resilience in addressing climate impact on peace and security. The event was rounded off with goodwill messages and award presentations to critical stakeholders, including chairman of Oshodi-Isolo Local Government Area, National Open University of Nigeria, Federal Road Safety Commission, Lagos Command, the state’s Ministry of Education, Lagos NYSC, National Union of Road Transport Workers, among others.