UNILAG VC, Stakeholders advocate youth engagement in restoring degraded ecosystems

Some dignitaries and school children at the opening of the conference

The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER), University of Lagos (UNILAG) and some veteran Environmentalists in Lagos have called for greater involvement of young people in development as well as implementation of ideas for addressing the multiplicity of ecological problems confronting humanity globally.

They made the call at the 2nd Annual Hybrid Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) UNILAG Students Chapter, November 30, 2023 at the University campus.

The theme of the 3 days Conference is “The role of youth in achieving the United Nation’s Agenda for Ecological Restoration through SDGS Action”.

According to the speakers, the severity and complexity of contemporary ecological issues demands the energy, innovation and collaborative disposition of young people to tackle within the ten years time frame given by the United Nations.

In a lecture, an environmentalist, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi said all reports and research findings point to the fact that the world is in crisis situation as a result of the threatening impacts of climate change, requiring immediate action by everyone to save the planet.

Desmond Majekodunmi
Majekodunmi noted that ecosystems must be urgently restored to fight hunger and poverty, halt mass extinction of organisms and enhance economic and business opportunities for people, especially young ones.

According to him, “There has never been a more urgent need to revive damaged ecosystems than now. Ecosystems support all the life on earth. The healthier our ecosystems are,the healthier the planet and it’s people.

“The UN decade on Ecosystems restoration aims to prevent, halt and revive the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean. It can help to end poverty, combat climate Change and prevent a mass extinction. It will only succeed of everyone plays a part.

“Youth and future generations are most impacted by the current rapid destruction of ecosystems-they also stand to benefit the most from a restoration economy. Education for restoration will turn today’s children into ecosystem ambassadors and provide skills foe sustainable jobs”, said Majekodunmi.

Dr. Excellence Akeredolu, West Africa Director for the SER Africa Board and Faculty Advisor to the SER Student Chapter, University of Lagos, explained that the conference was organised to among others catalyze actions and synergy for the restoration of the Nigerian ecosystems in line with the target set by the UN.

Dr. Excellence Akeredolu
Dr. Akeredolu in his welcome address, believed that by constructively engaging young people and adopting innovative solutions, the Nigerian ecosystems will have a positive outlook soon.

“The theme for this year’s conference underscores the vital role that young individuals play in shaping the future of our planet. As we confront the environmental challenges before us, it is imperative that we harness the energy,passion and innovative thinking of the youths to drive sustainable change.

“This conference will serve as a platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration and inspiration. Through engaging discussions, insightful presentations and interactive workshops, we will empower young individuals like ourselves to become catalysts for change in ecological restoration. We will share experiences, ideas and aspirations and collectively chart a path towards a more sustainable future.

The world is at a critical juncture and the choices we make today will shape the trajectory of our planet for years to come. By engaging the power of youth-led initiatives,innovative Technologies and community engagement, we can accelerate progress towards the SDGs and create a world where restoration and sustainable development go hand in hand.

Vice-Chancellor, UNILAG, Prof. Folashade Ogunsola on her part, pledged the commitment of the institution to nurturing the youths for Leadership, especially in the area of environmental stewardship.

She further stated that UNILAG under her leadership remains determined to supporting as well as empowering students to delve into ecosystems restoration, as she hailed the theme of the conference

“The theme of this conference alligns perfectly with the core values and vision of the University of Lagos. We firmly believe that young people hold the key to a brighter and more sustainable future. The energy, enthusiasm and fresh perspectives are catalysts for change. It is through their active engagement and involvement that we can achieve the ambitious goals set forth by the United Nations in the Decade of Ecological Restoration.

“The University of Lagos is wholeheartedly committed to supporting and empowering our students in their pursuit of ecological restoration and environmental stewardship. We understand that our role as an educational institution goes beyond imparting knowledge and skills. We have a responsibility to nurture the next generation of leaders who will shape the future of our planet.

“As we embark on this transformative journey, let us remember that ecological restoration is not a solitary endeavor but a collective responsibility. Let us harness the power of youth , academia and society at large to create a sustainable and restored world”.

Also speaking, Dean, Faculty of Science,UNILAG, Prof. Oyeyemi Elijah commended the commitment and passion of students in the conference, saying it is a proof that the nation is in a good hand environmentally.

“The opportunity to witness the energy and enthusiasm of the youth as they take the lead in ecological restoration is truly inspiring. The future lies in your hands and I am confident that with your innovative ideas , unwavering determination and collaborative spirit, we can make a real difference in the world. Your active involvement in this conference demonstrates your readiness to engage in meaningful dialogue,share knowledge and work together towards a common goal.

“I commend the Society for Ecological Restoration, UNILAG Student Chapter for organising this conference, which serves as a platform for the exchange of ideas, experiences and best practices. By bringing together experts ,researchers, professionals and the youth, this event fosters interdisciplinary collaboration, encourages critical thinking and promotes solution-oriented discussions. It is through collective efforts that we can devise comprehensive strategies to meet the targets set by the UN Agenda for Ecological Restoration.

“Today’s challenges demand a holistic approach. Environmental problems transcend disciplinary boundaries, requiring us to think beyond the confines of our specific fields. As the Dean of the Faculty of Science, I emphasise the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. This conference provides an opportunity for scholars and practitioners from various scientific disciplines to come together, share their expertise and engage in fruitful conversations. I believe that the integration of diverse perspectives will lead to innovative solutions and breakthroughs in ecological restoration.

The Day 1 of the conference featured award presentation to some individuals that have made outstanding contributions to the course of the environment in Lagos and the nation at large.

Those awarded included Professor Rosemary Iriowen Egonmwan, Professor Aderopo Adesoji ,Mrs. Oluwatoyin Oredolapo Agbenla and the Guest Lecturer, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi.

About 20 international experts in environmental and climatic matters will deliver lectures in the course of the 3 days Conference.

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