Youth Making Waves: Oghenechovwen Oghenekevwe

' cannot change everything but the little you do, is everything change requires.' - Macaulay Babajide Milton (Commonwealth Scholar)

I am Oghenechovwen Oghenekevwe, a Meteorology and Climate Science undergraduate student, from Warri, Nigeria. I have never watched whales, seen a sea turtle, gone snorkeling or scuba diving. My local environment may not have allowed me to really appreciate our oceans or seas, but I have seen small crabs, watched smiling young lads having canoe races, and women fetching from the rivers for domestic purposes - even though the waters are heavily polluted as a result of solid and liquid waste dumping, and oil spillage. Also, I understand that here, many people depend on water bodies for their source of livelihood, transportation, and even housing.

In one of his books, Prof. Chinua Achebe of blessed memory writes, 'People from different parts of the world can respond to the same story if it says something to them about their own history and their own experience'. This is my testimony. This is what happened to me. Recent stories concerning marine problems across our blue planet are no doubt unique to each environment, but they constantly remind me of the vanishing Lake Chad, the drying River Niger, the fishes that die in their waters, the dwindling capacity of Kainji Dam, and the oil and plastic induced pollution of the Niger Delta.

Taking a three-year Geography class sparked my interest in environmentalism, especially ocean conservation. Thanks to my teachers who with their deep voices, skills, experience and gestures made the issues real to me. As the classes went on, I felt more burdened by the problems associated with my immediate marine environment: acidification, plastic and oil induced pollution, and sea level rise leading to high risks of flooding. Having learnt that protecting our environment is for the benefit of the future and present generations, I began sharing my perspectives on environmental issues affecting people in my community, town, country and region through writing. This little effort influenced opinions across many Nigerian societies.

I wanted to serve on the World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council because it would give me the platform to join global voices to stand for active ocean conservation, engage young people across different communities on the need of taking sustainable actions, and share and collaborate with other diverse people.

I believe achieving the all-important objective of conserving our shared oceans and environment should not be left to government or civil societies alone. We have to work together, no matter how little our actions may be. In doing this, imagine the great circle of positive influence that will occur!

Oghenechovwen Oghenekevwe 28-Sep-2016