I have always wondered how people could live ordinary, humdrum, lives never wanting to achieve anything great or even attempt to make a difference in the world. Right from my childhood, I have always been dissatisfied with mundanity and mediocrity. Even as a medical student of the great University of Benin, I had always sought after ways to change my world. An avid writer, I have always believed that the pen is the most powerful tool in the world. Writing for me had always been easy, as I have been writing for as long as I can remember, even going as far as creating a press club in my secondary school. Blogging however posed a unique challenge because it is much more than just writing; it is being able to inform and inspire at the same time, which is no mean feat! I started blogging in 2012 because in Nigeria blogging gives a wider reach and affords one the opportunity to affect the mind-sets of people.
I have always been concerned about the environment, but living in Nigeria, this is often times difficult because we are bedevilled by other problems such as, poverty, corruption and insecurity. However, over the years, I’ve realized that even though we have our unique problems, environmental problems are global, so we cannot afford to stand aloof. I became particularly passionate about the environment in the wake of recent climate change events in the country over the last few years, particularly the flooding that occurred last year which resulted in thousands of people, becoming displaced and rendered homeless. Also the continuous, wanton, environmental pollution in the Niger Delta region due to oil spills and gas flaring as a result of crude oil exploration have strengthened my resolve about protecting the environment. This lead me to commence blogging on environmental issues, especially as the environment different affects our health.
In February this year I participated in the World Environment Day Blogging competition organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The competition was held in support of the “Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint!” campaign launched by the the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Out of over 1000 entries from international bloggers around the world, my blog post was selected amongst the top 10 worldwide to qualify for the final round of competition which was a worldwide online poll, where the person with the highest votes would be declared the winner and official representative and blogger for the United Nations for World Environment Day 2013.
Being the only African in the top 10 I had the herculean task of amassing enough online votes to win the competition. With the help of my friends and colleagues in the medical school I mobilized young people on social media especially twitter and facebook, as well as radio and newspapers, and at the end of the 14-day voting period I emerged the winner of the 2013 World Environment Day blogging competition after picking up almost half of close to 70,000 votes cast in the online poll. For winning the competition, I represented the United Nations in June 2013, for World Environment Day 2013 on an all-expense paid trip to Mongolia, as the official blogger for World Environment Day 2013.
Working with the United Nations has been the best experience of my life thus far and I also had the great opportunity of meeting world leaders including the President of Mongolia, Tsakhia Elbegdorj and the UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner. I had a fantastic time with the UN in Mongolia, whose people are warm, cheerful, hardworking and very open to new things. Mongolia as a country has made giant with regards to the environment and green development. It is a country whose visionary leadership working in tandem with its people has prioritized a Green Economy shift across its major economic sectors such as mining and has also promoted environmental awareness among the youth. Being one of the most affected nations in the world to global warming (with a mean temperature rise of 2.1 over the last 70 years), she is facing enormous challenges including growing pressure on food security and water supplies as a result of the impacts of climate change. Yet its government is undaunted and determined to meet these challenges and seize the opportunities of a less-polluting and more-sustainable future.
The high point of my stay in Mongolia however was visiting the Hustai National Park in the company of the UNEP Executive Director, other UNEP staff and some members of the foreign media. Our overnight stay at the park was a memorable experience for me. I was awestruck by the breath-taking landscape, clear blue skies, steeped mountains, lush green grasses, sand dunes and river wetlands. In the Park, we were treated to a virtuoso performance from the Domog folk modern group, who with a combination of powerful “throat singing” and excellent instrumentals took our breaths away.
I will forever cherish having the great privilege of meeting the President of Mongolia, Elbegdorj Tsahia at the State Palace, who is one of the leading voices on green development and environmental sustainability worldwide, something that my own dear president of Nigeria should take a cue from. Overall I had the experience of a lifetime and I left Mongolia with the distinct feeling of having made a difference in the world.
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