Goodwill Message Presented By Hon Toru Ofili, Special Adviser to the Rivers State Governor on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at Rivers State Government’s Commemoration of World Environment Day 2016

The UN member states discussed and agreed on what should be the global priorities that need to be met within the next 15 years—2015 to 2030. These priorities are now called the Sustainable Development Goals or The Global Goals. There are 17 Global Goals that cover a number of important issues for the world including; ending extreme poverty, ensuring all children receive a good education and most importantly promoting better practices for consumption and production that will help make the planet cleaner and healthier because frankly, without a planet there’s no life!

It is amazing to note that all of the 17 Goals are directly or indirectly connected to the preservation of the planet. It’s a great honor for me to be here, to commemorate World Environment Day 2016 with you. As the Special Adviser to the Governor of Rivers State on SDGs, it is my desire to work with all the line ministries and agencies in Rivers State t ensure that we as Rivers people “Make the SDGs work” in Rivers State.

A Kenyan Proverb instructs us to, ‘Treat the earth well; it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.”

The Earth is the present home for our children and we must keep it clean and safe. When we fail to clean and maintain our environment, we fall ill. There is an increase ein air borne diseases, terminal diseases like cancer—organ failure—etc. A dirty and wasteful society leads to a sick society. We must attach more importance to our surroundings.

World Environment Day is observed every year on the 5th of June to raise awareness of the environmental issues and how our actions as human beings are affecting the environment. The day aims to encourage people to protect our planet in little ways.

A Congolese proverb states that one should “Prepare now for the solutions of tomorrow”.

This year the UN has called for a worldwide campaign to take strong action to curb illegal trade of wildlife products that are threatening biodiversity—such as poaching, smuggling—illegal trade of wildlife products that are driving various wildlife species to the brink of extinction.

Coming home to Rivers State, what can we do to protect and preserve our environment so that we can live healthy lives and leave our earth better than we met it for our children? Let’s start at our doorstep—we know how much effort is being put in by the government to make Rivers State a better place for us. I walk and drive round Port Harcourt City and it is painful to see the filth everywhere. We can start by cleaning our gutters and drainages, and sweeping our compounds and house fronts. Let us decide to make every day an environmental sanitation day for ourselves. Rivers State Waste Management Agency can’t do everything for us—we have to clean! Let us develop the habit of cleaning our immediate environment.

Do not block drainages with your waste. Do not throw trash from your cars or when walking. Do not burn tyres or dirt. Become an advocate of environmental preservation. 
It has been acknowledged globally that failure to take care of our environment will hasten the end of the human race. We are already experiencing the effects of degredation of our environment in form of poverty, disease, global warming, climate change, drought, farming, desertification, and erosion. When we take care of the environment we are taking care four lives and those of our children.

Last week most of us were in Ogoni land to witness the launch of the Cleanup. The situation in Ogoni land and indeed the Niger Delta is a practical example of how our activities can adversely affect our environment. The situation in the Niger Delta has led to poverty, hunger, disruption of livelihood, bad health, etc. Like I said earlier, we are our environment, without a healthy environment, we cannot live sustainable lives.

Therefore, dear great Rivers people, I invite you today to ensure that we make the SDGs work in Rivers State so that by 2030 when the implementation of the SDGs is rounding off, we can proudly say, we made a difference—we made the SDGs work in Rivers State. 
Congratulations to the Ministry of Environment and all Rivers people on this most important day. Thank you and God bless.

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