Untiring Defender of Victims of Climate Change: Board Member & Advisor Awarded Rafto Prize
September 27, 2012 | One Comment
Nnimmo Bassey, Global Greengrants Fund Board Member and West Africa Advisor, has just been awarded the 2012 Rafto Prize for his work as an “untiring defender of victims of climate change.”
The Rafto Prize contributes to a focus on human rights violations and on people and communities which need the attention of the world. Nnimmo is recognized for “his long-term fight for people’s right to life, health, food and water in a world affected by complex and threatening climate change and mass environmental destruction. Through his rights based work and criticism of prevailing systems, Bassey has shown how human rights can help mitigate the effects of these changes.”
Excerpts from today’s press release by the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights:
“Nnimmo Bassey links human rights to the climate by demonstrating how climate change has the greatest effect on the world’s most vulnerable people, the very people who have contributed least to the problem in the first place. By awarding its annual prize to Nnimmo Bassey, the Rafto Foundation underlines how the challenges we face regarding climate and the environment also have a human rights aspect. Such a reminder is necessary following the loss of focus on these issues in the wake of the disappointment over the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009 (COP15) and the annual follow-up conferences.
Nnimmo Bassey – a clear stand for human rights
Nnimmo Bassey (born in 1958) was an architect who worked in the public sector until the 1980s when, as a member of the board of Nigeria’s Civil Liberties Organization, he became involved in cases linked to human rights. In 1990, he witnessed the Nigerian military’s attack on the village of Umuechem, following a peaceful demonstration against the environmental destruction caused by the oil industry. The fight to keep a natural and traditional way of life ended with two days of violent attacks which led to many tens of people being killed and a village being burned to the ground. This was a turning point for Bassey. Together with his colleagues he took a clear stand, and in 1993 the Environmental Rights Action (ERA) was formed to fight for human rights in Nigeria. Bassey has also expressed his thoughts in a number of poems and has stated his opinions in several reports and factual books. His best known books are Knee Deep in Crude (2009) and To cook a continent. Destructive extraction and the climate crisis in Africa (2011/2012).
Climate damage is a violation of human rights
Nnimmo Bassey is awarded the 2012 Rafto Prize for his untiring work to raise worldwide awareness about the human rights aspect of climate and environmental challenges in general and on the African continent in particular. He fights for vulnerable local communities’ rights to life, health, food and water. He demonstrates that underprivileged groups are hit especially hard by climate change and environmental destruction.”