Stakeholders Brainstorm On Environmental Stewardship At CPRT Confab By Otikor Samuel with Christiana Osarollo (Intern)

Issues bordering on proper environmental stewardship for sustainability of human habitation raised a major concern at the 2nd International Conference on Environment Management jointly organised by the Centre for Petroleum Research and Training in the University

The event was co-anchored with the United States-based National Registry of Environmental Professionals (NREP). The three-day conference which held at the main auditorium of the Institute of Petroleum Studies from Tuesday, 2nd to Thursday, October 4, 2018, had the theme: “Towards Achieving Environmental Sustainability in Africa.”

In her keynote address entitled: No Environmental Care, No Future, which was delivered at the opening ceremony, Rivers State Commissioner of Environment, Professor Roseline Konya, advocated proactive measures to address the rising environmental problems that have displaced thousands of people and endangered their health. Professor Konya, who was represented by Mr. Emmanuel Oye, lamented that reactionary measures by policy makers and sundry stakeholders was responsible for the increasing degradation of the environment. The Commissioner called for proactive measures that would nip the crisis in the bud, pointing out that preventive approaches were better than effort aimed at controlling environmental pollution.

“The whole earth is under severe threat. If we do not stop pollution or merely control it, we will not have a place to live. If you abuse the environment, the environment will in turn abuse you. We have been reactive and have resorted to blame game. We must stop the blame game and adopt proactive measures. Everybody has a part to play in protecting the environment. Let us take concrete actions to make progress in caring for the environment,” the Commissioner appealed to stakeholders. She listed air and water pollutions, soot, biased Environmental Impact Assessment and flood, as some of the human and natural causes of environmental degradation.

In his address read by the Director of Quality Assurance and Quality Control Unit, Professor Ikechukwu Agbagwa, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, commended the organisers for focusing attention on the environment. He regretted that the environment was constantly being assailed by oil spillages, air and oil pollution that compromised the health of people in the Niger Delta.

“This conference could not have come at a better time than now that our beloved country is facing numerous environmental challenges that assail us on all fronts. In Rivers State, for instance, we are living witnesses to the serious flash floods that have displaced thousands from their natural habitats. Many communities have been inundated by flash floods that have made life an earthly version of hell for these helpless victims of mainly man-made disasters,” the Vice-Chancellor's address read in part.

Speaking as Chair at the first Panel Session, 7th Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joseph Ajienka, recalled that the first international conference held way back in 2008 in Abuja, stating that the University had made a lot of contributions aimed at focusing attention on the grave environmental challenges facing parts of the country.

Professor Ajienka who showered praises on Dr. Keluo Chukwuogo of Boskel Nigeria Ltd for designing the famous Boskel Burner, also enjoined Belema Oil Producing Limited to be part of the activities of the University of Port Harcourt in environmental conservation through high impact research. The Acting Managing Director of Belema Oil, Mr. Pedro Diaz and his team graced the conference.

In his speech, Africa Representative of the National Registry of Environmental Professionals (NREP), Professor Ogbonna Joel, stated that “this year's conference presents a great opportunity for professional environment learning and networking. The mix of government, consultants, academia, professional bodies and industry representative at this conference is an excellent opportunity to improve networking relationships among all the stakeholders for a better environmental come.”

In his welcome address, Director of the Centre for Petroleum Research and Training (CPRT), Dr. Boma Kinigoma, blamed the high pollution in Nigeria on oil insensitive companies. “The energy industry is responsible for the huge percentage of environmental challenges that we face in Africa. The collaboration between (CPRT) University of Port Harcourt and (NREP), USA to midwife this conference is therefore very appropriate, because the continent of Africa and Nigeria in particular will benefit immensely from this gathering, especially in the area of environmental management.” 

Earlier, in a video presentation, the Executive Director of National Registry of Environmental Professional (NREP) USA, Mr. Christopher Young, disclosed that NREP was committed to educating people and protecting the environment to make the world a cleaner and safer place to live.

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