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UNEP, Others Commend Bassey On Rafto Prize

UNEP, Others Commend Bassey On Rafto Prize

THE United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has joined scores of environmental human rights activists and organisations across the world in commending Nigeria's Nnimmo Bassey, for winning the 2012 Rafto Prize.

In a congratulatory message signed by the UNEP Director and Regional Representative, Mounkaila Goumandakoye, the global body said Bassey’s work linking human rights to climate change is a major contribution to ongoing efforts to ensure that programmes to increase climate change resilience address the needs of vulnerable groups.

Bassey, who is the Executive Director of the Environmental Rights Action (ERA) received the Prize on Sunday in Norway, in recognition of his long-term fight for people’s rights to life, health, food and water in a world affected by climate change and mass environmental destruction.

The Rafto Prize for Human Rights has been awarded to advocates of human rights and democracy every year since 1987. Some of the Rafto Laureates have subsequently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Rafto Foundation said that through his rights-based work and criticism of prevailing systems, Bassey has shown how human rights can help mitigate the effects of these changes.

In his acceptance speech, Bassey who also doubles as chair of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) said: "I am honored and humbled by this announcement. I hold the Rafto Foundation in high esteem for its commitment to human right defenders. I have campaigned on oil pollution and human rights in Nigeria for decades. Standing with impacted communities we continually demand justice. We press on, convinced that truth will prevail.”

“ERA and the entire human right community in Nigeria is honored to have our own Bassey accorded the prestigious Rafto Prize for championing human rights issues, not only in the remotest parts of Nigeria’s Niger Delta but also in the international arena. The award is well-deserved,” said ERA Director, Programmes & Administration, Godwin Uyi Ojo.

Ojo added that: “For us as an organisation, such a global recognition will only spur us to deepen our advocacy against environmental human rights atrocities in every part of the world”

At a dinner to honour Bassey, Mayor Trude Drevland – Mayor of Bergen noted that as one of the most important spokesmen within human rights and climate and environmental changes, Bassey has achieved international recognition and support from politicians and several institutions.

Nnimmo Bassey is one of Africa’s leading advocates and campaigners for the environment and human rights. He has tirelessly stood up against the practices of multinational corporations and the devastating footprints they leave behind, destroying the lives and trampling on the rights of local people.

The Rafto Prize adds to a list of honors accorded Bassey in recent time. In 2009 he was listed among the Time Magazine “Heroes of the Environment”. In 2010 he was named along with three other environmentalist as winner of the “Rights Livelihood Awards”, popularly referred to as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”.


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