The 2016 World Earth Day has come and gone, REMMY NWEKE examines concerns for electronic waste as Nigeria's use of electronics, including mobile devices keep rising.What is World Earth Day:
The month of April has become known with the popular April-Fool phenomena, but the fourth-month of year holds a lot more for humanity than a global prank season, especially as the world holds the Earth Day every 22nd of this month with the theme “Trees for the Earth.”
This year’s commemoration of the World Earth Day, 2016 marks the 46th year of a movement that continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action. Recalling that in 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, the movement gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling human energy toward environmental issues.
Forty-six years later, the campaign has continued with groundbreaking ideas and by the power of examples by concerned citizens of the world. For some of the advocates, Earth Day goes beyond just a single day known as April 22, 2016, hence, it’s bigger than attending a rally.
Although in the year 2009, the United Nations instituted the International Mother Earth Day via the General Assembly under Resolution A/RES/63/278. The Resolution was introduced by The Plurinational State of Bolivia and endorsed by over 50 member states, recognizing that "the Earth and its ecosystems are our home" and that "it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth."
The term Mother Earth, NaijaAgroNet gathered, is used because it "reflects the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit" hence April 22 was designated as International Mother Earth Day.
In Nigeria … e-waste reaches 75% of ‘Tokunbo’ electronics:
As the world marks the 2016 Earth Day, NaijaAgroNet reports exclusively that 75 per cent of used electronics devices also known in local parlance as ‘second hand’ or ‘Tokunbo’ electronics imported into Nigeria are unserviceable thus unusable, therefore constitute electronic waste ever before sailing into the country.
The assistant Secretary-General of the Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), Mr. John Oboro affirmed that 75 per cent of these Tokunbo items are not usually functional and cannot even be fixed. Declaring, “I will tell you that we have greater percentage of those (second hand electronics) that cannot be used, than can be used. Honestly speaking, I can tell you that about 75 per cent of these items are not usable.”
Equally speaking, the Director, Basel Convention, Regional Centre, Prof. Oladele Osibanjo decried that the burning of used electronic devices generally are very hazardous, and those working on this could be prone to cancer, especially in Nigeria.
This, he said, is because those set of workers could take-in components that are dangerous, so it cannot be distanced from the incidence of high cancer rates which is on the rise now in Nigeria. Maintaining that most of these electronic items are not usable and warned on the impact of continuous exportation of unusable electronics to developing countries, which he said negates the global village theory of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
Where’s the global village in e-waste?
“We claim one global village, its important to ensure that countries from where these used electronics are being shipped from are cleaned up and the same goes to those importing nations, to ensure that eventually all sides are safe at the end of the day,” Prof. Osibanjo counseled.
However, NaijaAgroNet reports that exporters of these electronics argued that Tokunbo devices extends the life span of these electronics when refurbished and help in bridging the digital divide in the developing economies.
But another school of thought confirmed to NaijaAgroNet that large number of computers and electronics devices imported into Nigeria via Lagos, every month, are largely non-functional and non-repairable, hence these end up being stacked in private warehouses across the country, especially in the South-Western Nigeria.
Equally, NaijaAgroNet reports that very often these items are dumped in the residential areas at uncompleted buildings and invariably burnt, thereby releasing highly content pollutant into the atmosphere, air and water.
NaijaAgroNet further reports that over one billion people in 192 countries took part in actions to protect shared environment; all across the globe, in big cities to small villages and everything in-between, people are organizing, demanding climate action, cleaning up their local communities, meeting with their elected officials, planting trees, and teaching their children to protect their planet.
In Nigeria, the African Environmental Action Network (AEAN) in collaboration with Hubert H Humphrey Alumni partnered with the Federal Ministry of Environment and support of the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy in hosting an event tagged "Rebranding Personalised Legacy Tree Planting and Nurturing for Sustainable Empowerment, Climate Safety and National Development" in addition to a subtheme on "Every Nigerian a Tree Every Year."
According to the coordinator, AEAN, Dr. Victor Fodeke, tree planting and nurturing will become a natural lifestyle when "we grow money on trees" and celebrate events with legacy tree planting and nurturing lifestyle. He expressed hope that the work to adopt and brand support for muti-purpose tree nurseries for seedlings, community woodlots for food, fodder, fuel-wood, finance, fence, pharmacy, beautification, among other, calling on all hands to be on deck to save the planet because "Earth Day is every day for everybody, every day is earth day for everybody.”
NaijaAgroNet recalls that the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement, thus leading to the passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed.
World leaders sign Paris climate agreement:
Precisely on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2016, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited every world leader to the United Nations to officially sign the Paris Climate Agreement reached this past December.
President, Earth Day Network (EDN), Kathleen Rogers said Earth Day is the largest, most recognizable face of the environmental movement as “Millions of people in dozens of different countries will become lifelong environmentalists this and every Earth Day. Hundreds of thousands will be children – our planet’s future. They will join the more than 1 billion people who already use Earth Day to focus on the urgent need to stabilize and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, fight climate change, act locally, become climate voters, and protect their children’s futures.”
This year Earth Day Network, she said, focused on the urgent need to plant new trees and forests worldwide, underscoring the fact that EDN sponsors and takes part in tree plantings across the US and worldwide, but this year raised the stakes with the beginning of the four year count down to Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020, “Earth Day Network is pledging to plant 7.8 billion trees worldwide – one for every person on Earth! That’s incredibly ambitious, but we believe this down-payment must be made in order to combat climate change and keep our most vulnerable eco-systems from facing extinction.”
EDN, she also said, have no higher priority this year than to make sure the United States, China, India, the EU, and all the largest CO2 emitters sign the Paris Agreement. EDN has launched a petition calling on world leaders including President Obama to show leadership.
“We need to prove that what happened in Paris last December was not all talk. We need to take action. Signing the Paris Agreement this Earth Day at the United Nations is just the beginning. That, coupled with our global activities, will make this the largest, most significant Earth Day in years. And it’s the perfect start in our countdown to Earth Day 2020, our 50th!” Rogers said.
As we expect to plant an estimated 7.8 billion trees globally in the next four years for the Earth to become even better place for habitation and by taking a stand via divesting from fossil fuels and making cities 100 per cent renewable, its very important that electronic waste take a front row, considering that more and more electronics are coming into the continent of Africa, and mostly in Nigeria with the increased use of mobile devices on the prowl.
It is therefore advisable that organisations begin to look at how these electronics are disposed eventually to avoid setting up yet another Improvised Explosive Device (IED) by ourselves’ unknown to man.
In Nigeria, there seems to be silent over how to gather these used electronic devices and even the ones we now generate ourselves which may have become obsolete as technologies change almost within monthly basis.
Its through that over 40 certified eWaste in the world as at the time of filing this report, none is in Africa let alone in Nigeria. Uncracked nuts for those who may foresee the underlining businesses and help this society align itself with the global village, given that Nigeria now has over 90 million connected to the Internet for instance, most of whom are on mobile. Where do they discard those devices in the event of damage or at the point of unusability?
These much, must be explained to millions of schoolchildren and their teachers who participate in 2016 Earth Day in education, civic, and outdoor programmes so as to teach them about the importance of clean air, water and adequate disposal of electronic devices as well as how to begin a lifelong practice of civic participation, and experience the wonders of nature.
Pix: Courtesy: al jazera