Climate Justice: A Nigerian Lawyer’s Journey

 

 

 

 

I am Oluwatosin Kate Olanrewaju-Elufowoju, a lawyer with focus on Environment, Social Enterprise, SDGs, Sustainability, Policy/Regulations, Research, Philanthropy. The Lead Consultant, Legal Vessel Consult which is my law office and the Team Lead, Eco Pan-Afrik a platform aimed at showcasing and promoting nature and sustainability in Africa through ecoprenuership. Though a Nigerian, I consider myself as an emerging global Pan African leader.

 

 

I was born and breed in Lagos, Nigeria. The second child from a family of five. One significant memories from my childhood is the discipline inculcated in me by my secondary school housemaster who ensured a strict compliance of proper waste disposal. We were trained never to walk pass any litter. His strict discipline still has effect on me till date as I would rather make my handbag a temporary litter bin rather than dispose wastes indiscriminately.  I currently reside in Osun , Nigeria with my husband and two lovely princesses.

 

PASSION

To begin, I strongly believe education should not just be about good grades for economic gains but a process of self-discovery, passion and purpose tailored to meet and solve the needs of one’s immediate community, humanity and society.

The traditional discipline of law is known for human rights advocacy, court room dramas, election petition sagas, regale judges and magistrates to mention a few. The current economic down turn and increased population of seasoned lawyers churned out yearly from various law schools coupled with contemporary trends have brought about deviations from the traditional law career pathways.

When I began my journey in the study of law, I had no specific area of interest in mind. I was more concerned with graduating with fine grades but as I progressed, I took some liking for business and commercial law practice. However, I discovered my passion and career pathway during my postgraduate studies under the tutelage of an erudite but strict professor who taught Environmental law. One specific day, she took us on an exercise, she asked us to close our eyes for few minutes which we all did. she then asked each one of us to say what we saw. The answers ranged from nothing, darkness, emptiness, void and more. When it got to my turn, I exclaimed; a Dessert! The professor exclaimed which so much excitement ‘correct’!Del Report

That exercise marked a turning point for me in the choice of a passionate career path in the environmental space. One constant question that burned in my mind at the onset of my career journey in the environmental space is why there were so many environmental laws but non-compliance and ineffective implementation nor enforcement of these laws to ensure positive environmentally friendly behaviours.  My curiosity led me to further take another postgraduate course in Environmental Control and Management which opened up great opportunities for learning, active advocacy and scholarship.  It also helped me to consolidate and strengthen my understanding of the social and scientific dimension to environmental problems which can enhance the effective drafting, implementation, compliance and enforcement of environmental policies/law. I began to volunteer for organizations whose objectives were focused on ensuring environmental sustainability. My first opportunity at volunteering is the International Student’s Environmental Coalition (ISEC), the international body for the National Student’s Environmental Coalition (NISEC). Being part of the pioneering team, we were able to engage in intense sensitizations, seminars, workshops, radio programs and tree planting competition exercise for secondary schools students.

My other passionate interests include inspirational readings and movies, biographies or auto-biographies, strolling, spending quality time with family and friends. I also enjoy great conversations with likeminded individuals.

PROBLEMS AND PANECEAS

One constant question and uncertainty I was initially confronted with however, was how relevant my background discipline was to the environmental space. Over time, I have discovered and proven the field of law is not only relevant but very essential in the environmental space as well as climate justice. Many times, we find that policy makers are not well informed of environmental issues; while environmental scientist are not well grounded on laws and policy. This divide is one way I hope to be able to bridge with my knowledge of the law and environmental management. From my previous studies and research, I have also discovered that though developing countries may not be major contributors to global emissions, the region is however, largely affected by these emissions and diverse other environmental challenges such as deforestation, improper waste management, environmental insecurity/conflicts including global environmental change which are anthropogenic in nature. In addition, I have gained insight to the fact that these environmental challenges require  solutions from different approaches such as economic, theological, social, administrative, institutional, law, policy, investment, business, social enterprises including local/indigenous solutions. Furthermore, to achieve sustainable development  which is also in line with the Agenda 2063; global socio-ecological problems call for multidisciplinary solutions that transcend the usual boundaries of science and decision-making and these inform my career pathway in the environmental space.

Another worrisome problem is the economic challenges confronting the African region as well as the increasing unemployment rate among the teeming youth population. Solutions to these problems will come through sustainable social development and enterprise.  Sadly, the perceivable general notion of many graduates of environmental studies is that the certificate is incapable of producing them substance. I consider this narrative grossly erroneous based on the knowledge, exposure and experiences I have had in recent years. These inherent opportunities are prompting me to explore avenues through which willing youths can be exposed to the excellent opportunities and wealth embedded in ecoprenuership. Ecoprenuership simply refers to enterprises or entrepreneurial activities that create wealth and profits from wastes, unwanted, discarded, useless or unused materials which otherwise are capable of degrading the environment. Interestingly, a very minute number of youths are exposed to, or are currently exploring and harnessing ecoprenurship. My goal as a lawyer is to be able to get to the point where I can effectively influence policies and laws including creating legal forms that help green businesses and social enterprises thrive greatly.

In addition, environmental laws are mostly soft laws which are not legally binding nor directly justifiable. The new international advocacy for environmentally degrading activities to be regarded as ecocide I believe will go a long way towards helping to curb climate injustice and environmental degradation.

CONCLUSION

I will conclude with the words of Wangari Maathai, “the generation that destroys the environment is not the generation that pays the price.” Therefore, climate justice and environmental sustainability advocacy and actions must continue until we win completely.

 

By LawyerOluwatosin Kate Olanrewaju-Elufowoju

 

Source: Climate Daily Effects (C.D.F) is a social media platform that share stories and solutions to climate crisis in everyday life. C.D.F is presented to you Friday of every week by LYCA ‘s Climate Education Coordinator Miss. Kadiatu A. Sheriff. Climate Daily Effects is an initiative of  Liberian  Youth for Climate  Actions (LYCA)

 

You can share your stories and solutions to us (LYCA ) through these media: Nyanfor7077@gmail.com, lycactions@gmail.com , Whatsapp (+231776882413), Follow us on Facebook @LYCActions

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