Story | 08 Jun, 2023

On World Environment Day: International law experts call for renewed commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

WCEL members and other leading sustainability experts have called for the urgent prioritisation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the foundation for social, economic and infrastructure development planning in order to effectively combat plastic pollution and advance all round sustainable green growth.

The recommendation was made at a public lecture to commemorate this year’s World Environment Day. The World Environment Day is an annual event led by the United Nations Environment Programme and held annually on 5 June worldwide to promote global awareness on environmental issues.

Themed “Solutions to Plastic Pollution” this year’s ceremony was organized by the Natural Resources, Energy and Environment (NREE) Committee of the International Law Association (Nigerian branch) chaired by Oluwaseyi Ebenezer, and held in partnership with the Institute for Oil, Gas, Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development (OGEES Institute), Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), and Triple Green Environmental Development Foundation (TGED Foundation). The ceremony featured a compelling keynote conversation with Professor Christina Voigt, a world-renowned professor of international environmental law at the University of Oslo, Norway, and the Chair of the IUCN World Commission of Environmental Law.

Professor Voigt called on governments across the world, including Nigeria, to actively adopt two complimentary strategies to combat plastic pollution and advance the SDGs. First is the bottom-up strategy of adopting homegrown solutions to plastic pollution, including through clean entrepreneurship innovation, and second is the top-down strategy of adopting and implementing international instruments on combating plastic pollution.

The keynote conversation was followed by high-level panel discussions featuring notable experts including Dr. Isa Elegbede of Geo Blue Planet, Switzerland, Dr. Adenike Akinsemolu of the Green Institute, Nigeria and Folakemi Jegede, a member of the NREE Committee who discussed the role of government and business enterprises to reduce plastic pollution through sustainable packaging, green procurement and emphasis on pollution control.

In his opening goodwill message, WCEL member and the President of the International Law Association (Nigerian Branch), who is also Vice Chair of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, SAN said “We have just seven years left for the attainment of all the SDGs, which places enormous responsibility on the new administration of President Bola Tinubu. A renewed commitment to the SDGs can be the foundation for attracting new global sustainability-related investments and financing, doubling our internally generated revenue and creating new green technologies and jobs that are needed to propel the Nigerian economy at these very challenging times. The way forward is to place the SDGs squarely at the heart of planning and decision making at all levels. As time and opportunities wait for no one, I hope the new administration will take prompt and active steps to refocus national planning on the SDGs, realizing that if we fail to do so, such financing opportunities will go to other ready markets.”

On her part, the Chairperson of the Committee, Ms. Oluwaseyi Ebenezer charged governments at all levels as well as the various stakeholders to not only curb plastic pollution but also to stretch their reach far and beyond to other environmental issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss through continued collaboration and partnerships in line with the ‘United Nations SDG 17 so as to create a greener and safer environment for us all.

This year’s celebration also featured a road campaign on plastic pollution across Ado Ekiti, the capital city of Ekiti State which took place on the 5th of June. The campaign was declared open by the Vice Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Prof. Elisabeta Smaranda Olarinde who in her speech stated the urgent need to address the adverse environmental impacts of plastic pollution and encouraged the public to embrace sustainability lifestyles. The road campaign was attended by a large number of people including notable stakeholders such as the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) as well as the Ekiti State Ministry of Environment, NGOs and several Youth led Organizations in the state.

The ILA was founded in Brussels in 1873. The ILA now has some 4,500 members in 45 national and regional branches around the world. It is headquartered in London under the leadership of the global chair, Professor Christine Chinkin. The Nigerian Branch of the ILA regularly hosts innovative lectures, seminars, conferences, and other capacity development programs to advance the study and understanding of international law in Nigeria. To learn more about the ILA, its activities, and events visit

For more information on the International Law Association (Nigerian Branch)


About the author:

Olawaseyi Ebenezer

Oluwaseyi Ebenezer

Chairperson, Committee on Natural Resources, Energy and Environment
International Law Association, Nigerian Branch