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Art drives environmental sustainability, say experts

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Experts have described art as a driver of environmental sustainability. Speaking at the fourth edition of the monthly lecture series tagged, ‘Point of View’ (POV), they said art has a role to play in addressing climate change.

With the theme, Art As A Driver For Environmental Sustainability, they advocated for the promotion of interdisciplinary collaborations between professionals across disciplines to highlight the significant role of visual arts in addressing climate change.

The lecture was organised by Ben Enwonwu Foundation, in collaboration with the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) and supported by Alliance Française /Mike Adenuga Centre. 

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Launched on September 17, 2019, POV draws from other creative disciplines and diverse sectors as government, science, and technology to impact policy, by raising awareness, advocating for change and inspiring action. It aims to further encourage support and funding for visual artists through public and private sector partnerships while ensuring continuing artists’ professional development and empowerment.
 
Experts interrogated different aspects and the dimension of the phenomenon, subsequently, conveying to the government recommendations and creative solutions to mitigate its impact.

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In line with its thrust, the fourth edition also featured presentations by artists on how they have adopted environmentally sustainable practices in conceptualising work from recycled waste, created wealth, raised awareness and engaged local communities.
    
Speaking with The Guardian on the need to plant more trees, Chairman, Lagos State Urban Forest, and Animal Shelter Initiative, Desmond Olumuyiwa Majekodunmi, who presented a paper on Making Our Futures: The Intersection of Culture and the Environment, said, “We started the campaign to plant 25 million trees in Nigeria with a symbolic planting of trees in the new year with Phillip Asiodu at the Lufasi Nature Park. It’s not my initiative, it’s the President himself (Muhammadu Buhari), who started it, and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation is driving the project in a big way; Lufasi Nature Park is playing a small role. The 25 million is a good amount, but it’s not enough.”

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On global warming, he said, “when we’re saying don’t burn fossil fuel, we’re saying it because burning it is poisonous and very damaging to the environment. In fact, it’s too valuable a resource to be burnt.”
    
He added, “I think we need to take the issue of climate change extremely serious and we’re going to need some good funding to really prevent the catastrophe. And I’m hoping that corporate entities will actually finance grassroots interventions, whereby you can take a small mobile TV system into the villages, speak in the local dialects and talk to the people.”
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On tackling climate change through art, founder, SMO contemporary Art, Sandra Mbanefo-Obiago, who spoke on Waste to Wealth: The Growing Market for Recycled Art, said, “arts made from recycled materials have actually gained a lot in value, and is valued by collectors not just in Nigeria but worldwide. One of the champions of this is Professor El Anatsui, who creates his amazing works out of recycled materials.
 
“But the underlying message is that individual wealth does not translate to the wealth of a nation. When we’re really talking about waste to wealth, what does it entail? Waste to wealth entails being able to empower youths. We need to look at the incredible increase in populations in urban areas and look at issues of waste management, such as the problem that we have with plastics, and how they affect our environment. And if we want to create an enabling environment for all citizens, then the government has to be involved. It’s not just the artists. It’s not just about the culture seekers. It’s the fact that we need a multi-disciplinary approach to deal with our huge environmental problems.
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“So, we’re looking at the loss of biodiversity. We’re looking at the issues of climate change and how it affects us with drought and rising sea levels; we are looking at the increase in the need for energy. So, all those things need to be tackled from the grassroots as well as from the governmental level.”
 
On his part, the founder and Executive Director of the Ben Enwonwu Foundation and organizers POV, Oliver Enwonwu said, “I think we should be thinking about saving our planet, saving a world for the future generations. We have read about the alarming story about the future of our world. Even there’s one on Lagos that says it will sink in 2050. So what can we do to stop this? There’s carbon emission for instance and we are falling trees. These are things we must advocate against, to make sure that you we try to stem climate change from affecting us.” 

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