Press Release
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY 2024: Ensure Shell, Other IOCs Clean Up the Niger Delta before Divestment, ANEEJ tells FG

WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY 2024: Ensure Shell, Other IOCs Clean Up the Niger Delta before Divestment, ANEEJ tells FG

BENIN CITY, NIGERIA. June 5, 2024… As the world marks today as World Environment Day, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a leading organization dedicated to eradicating poverty and promoting environmental justice in Africa, and Convener of the Peoples Annual General Meeting (AGM), a pan-Nigerian civil society coalition of over 40 organizations working on climate change issues, has called on the Nigerian government to ensure that Shell and other international Oil Companies (IOCs) clean up the Niger Delta before divesting from onshore operations in line with the theme of this year’s World Environment Day, theme  which focuses on “restoring our land and building resilience against desertification and drought.”

In a statement issued today to commemorate this year’s World Environment Day, ANEEJ Acting Executive Director,  Leo Atakpu expressed deep concerns over the severe consequences of unregulated extraction practices by major oil and gas companies which has  forced local communities to live under extremely harsh conditions in the Niger Delta. He urged the Nigerian government and industry leaders, including Shell, Eni, and their investors, to use this year’s theme to expedite remediation efforts and ensure a responsible divestment process that prioritizes environmental sustainability.

“Today, as we join the global community in commemorating World Environment Day 2024 themed ‘Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience,’ we must acknowledge the urgency of restoring our lands. Decades of unchecked fossil fuel extraction have scarred the Niger Delta. We call on leaders and investors to champion environmental sustainability. Our land is our lifeline—its health is our future. Let us turn barren wastelands back into thriving ecosystems, ensuring a resilient and prosperous world for generations to come,” Atakpu emphasised.

He further noted that following several decades of oil exploration, marked by ecocide, environmental degradation, and loss of livelihoods due to repeated gas flaring and oil spillages, these IOCs have begun to shift to offshore operations, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. “The federal government must resist the temptation of allowing companies like shell, TotalEnergies amongst others to divest without addressing the humongous environmental damages in the Delta, “ Atakpu cautioned, noting that “the fossil fuel industry has undermined the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) exercebating the poverty and climate crisis in the pursuit of solving the energy crisis. Yet, the energy crisis in Africa remains ever-present with no silver lining to fossil fuel activities.

“We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to take immediate action to investigate and audit all polluted sites across the Niger Delta. Contractors who have underperformed in the Ogoni Cleanup  must be held accountable, with their contracts revoked and funds recovered. Moreover, the government must contribute its fair share to the Ogoni cleanup fund and ensure the proper coordination and effectiveness of the cleanup process,” Innocent Edemhanria, ANEEJ Programme Manager added.

“The global community must also increase funding to developing countries to support climate adaptation, protect nature, and promote sustainable development. Inaction is too costly, both economically and environmentally. Every amount invested in environment restoration generates significant economic benefits and helps secure a sustainable future, #GenerationRestoration.

“The Nigerian government, alongside international partners, must act swiftly to reverse the environmental degradation that threatens our communities and future generations.” Edemhanria stated.

On this World Environment Day, ANEEJ reiterates its commitment to environmental justice and calls on all stakeholders to join forces in building a sustainable and resilient future for Nigeria and the world. Our collective efforts today will determine the quality of life for generations to come. Let us seize this moment to act decisively and ensure that our planet remains habitable and thriving for all.

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