As part of the 2021 World Environment Day activities in Nigeria, Sterling One Foundation mobilised 125 volunteers to clean and restore Eleko Beach to its pristine natural state. The cleanup exercise drew volunteers from Rite Foods, Sterling Bank, Nigerian Donors, Proshare, Bonnie Bio Biodegradable, and African Cleanup Initiative.
The Sterling One Foundation programme at Eleko Beach will last 52 weeks, a statement from the organizers said.
“It will rid the Eleko coastline of dirt and toxins, bringing alive the theme of this year’s World Environment Day – Ecosystem Restoration. This year’s commemoration coincides with the beginning of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration,” it said.
Peju Ibekwe, CEO of Sterling One Foundation, who spoke on the event, said the Foundation believes that it is nearly impossible to live a healthy life, conduct business and create wealth amidst waste or a toxic environment.
According to Ibekwe, “Without clean air, water, land and energy, our collective humanity is endangered. Therefore, to safeguard humanity, it becomes necessary for all – the private sector, civil society groups, government, and individuals – to heed the clarion call to keep our environment orderly and functional through sustainable living actions and regular cleaning.
“We have been blessed with corporate partners, civil society supporters and well-meaning individuals committed to the cause of the environment. The 125 volunteers from our partner organisations recovered 35.2kg of recyclables and 1,208kg of solid waste from the Eleko coastline during a two-hour cleanup exercise. They have been crucial to the success of the beach cleanup programme at Alpha Beach earlier this year, which marked the flag-off of the Foundation’s multi-beach cleanup exercise.”
The statement added that the Baale of Eleko, Chief Gbadebo Fatai Labiya mobilised the community to join the exercise. He commended Sterling One Foundation and other partners for their support. Labiya called on the Lagos State government to prioritise the development and transformation of the ‘Eleko Beach’ into a strategic tourism destination.
Alexander Akhigbe of the African Cleanup Initiative was also quoted as saying that the Eleko community would continue with the cleaning exercise of the beach for the rest of the year.
He said the waste to wealth recycling programme embedded in the cleanup programme would create business opportunities for the community, translating to economic empowerment.
Providing further insight on waste management and environmental preservation, Taiwo Adewole, executive director, Recycle Point, believed that activities like planting trees, generating less waste, beach cleanup restoration and clean drainage were part of the essential components for a sustainable environment.
He cited Lagos State as an example of a sub-national that has provided enabling laws and regulations on effective waste management and ecosystem restoration.
Despite the challenging macro-economic environment, Adewole believed that activities in the clean environment space could create employment opportunities for citizens.
World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated annually on the 5th of June and is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action to protect the environment. It first held in 1974 and has been a platform for raising awareness on environmental issues such as marine pollution, human overpopulation, global warming, sustainable consumption, and wildlife crime.
The World Environment Day is a global platform for public outreach, with participation from over 143 countries annually. Each year, the program has provided a theme and forum for businesses, non-government organisations, communities, governments, and celebrities to advocate environmental causes.