Green Campus Initiative features in Earth Day: Climate Action 2016

Time, people, events, and places conglomerate to align you with destiny…
— Unknown

Theodore Idibiye Francis Auditorium, located at The Federal University of Technology, Akure, was ready to accommodate green minds from inside and outside of Nigeria. The warm and refreshing air, welcoming sounds, and rich blends of colours used in its interior confirmed that this would be the perfect location for Nigeria’s Earth Day celebrations. Before the event began, as a Green Campus Initiative Intern, I was able to join in the chats, banter, and healthy discussions going on among groups of lively, intelligent and energetic people. Their impressions, feelings, and comments about this stand-out climate event were positive and educative. All these people, discussions, natural and tranquil environment really helped set the mood up for what was to happen.

Earth Day is an annual event on which day events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson and first celebrated in 1970, it is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year. With the passage of COP21 and the release of new UN Sustainable Development Goals, climate awareness is at an all time high. In this spirit, the Space Club and ENACTUS Team of The Federal University of Technology, Akure, felt it timely to organize Earth Day: Climate Action 2016 on January the 15th, 2016. The event was aimed at promoting sustainable practices that people could adapt to protect the planet. It was also a platform for sharing ideas, exhibiting products and inventions that mitigate climate change.

What made the event special for me?

First, it was the highly educative and interactive oral presentations of the experienced lead speakers, which included Adenike Akinsemolu; the Founder of Green Campus Initiative, Toluwanimi Kolawole; a Research Associate at The University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Prof. Ahmed Balogun; an Applied Meteorologist and the Coordinator of WASCAL (West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use).

Adenike Akinsemolu showed the audience, which comprised of primary school pupils, secondary school students, university undergraduates, and young professionals from around the region, simple and creative solutions that will help sustain earth and influence people. Some of these included: commuting green, raising eco-conscious kids, social entrepreneurship, investing in organic foods and products etc. Toluwanimi Kolawole continued the session by sharing knowledge on parts of the planet such as people, resources, and systems which are finite. He discussed  the relationships between these element and, how anthropogenic activities influence the climate, and problem solving or critically thinking skills.

Also, the panel discussion and product and invention exhibition made the event special. Interesting questions were raised and discussed. One of such questions raised by a female undergraduate student of Industrial Design was on how art could be used to minimize climate change. One of the panellist, a Ghanaian and Team Lead of The Conservative; Mr Thomas Koffi Aboh emphasized that recently, art has become an important tool in reducing the effect of climate change. He went ahead and showed The Conservative eco-friendly products such as bags and caps all of which are made from local materials. Other panellists were, Olayinka Ojo; the Green Campus Initiative Minister for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, and also the Winner of the UN Spoken for Word Contest, Owoeye Josaiah Abolade; an Environmental Pollution PhD candidate, and Daniel Trump from the University of Edinburg.

Several teams, including The Conservative and Earthplus Africa from Obafemi Awolowo University, exhibited great ideas and products that are mitigating climate change.

Top Dignitaries of the University present at the event were the Dean of Students Affairs and First Bank Nigeria Professorial Chair in Computer Science; Prof. B. K. Alese, who also represented the Vice Chancellor of the University; Prof G. A. Daramola, the University Registrar; Dr. Mrs M. Ajayi, and Director of CESRA (Centre for Space Research and Applications), FUTA; Prof. J. O. Akinyede.

The Earth Day Event at FUTA was different from other green campaigns or activities because it did not just create awareness, but because it was a platform for sharing ideas and exhibiting various projects and innovations working to mitigate climate change. Attending this event alongside other team members from the Green Campus Initiative was worthwhile to me. The outcome has already started to be felt among other participants. This event should be held every year across campuses in Nigeria as this is a sure way of ensuring sustainability. Check out the pictures below:

Christopher Oghenekevwe Oghenechovwen , a B.Tech student of Meteorology and Climate Science (FUTA), is a decolonized African, environmentalist and ready volunteer. He is 2013 Citizenship and Leadership Certified by CLTC, Nigerian Federal Ministry of Youth Development, a 2015 UNESCO & Athabasca University student on Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue, 2015 Senior Category Gold Winner of The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition, and youth correspondent at . His growing passions lie within the circle of Climate Action, Media and Information, IT, Youth Education and Leadership. Apart from volunteering with Earthplus, The Green Campus Initiative, and doing creative writing, Oghenekevwe loves to connect with people. Invite him for a healthy conversation via