UNIPORT Hosts Rights Livelihood Campus

The fifth campus of the Rights Livelihood Award Foundation in the world and the second in Africa, is to be sited in the University of Port Harcourt. The campus will build the capacity of Nigerian students on environmental issues

HEALTH of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, a Nigerian environmental justice campaign organisation is partnering with the Rights Livelihood Award Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, to establish the Rights Livelihood Campus, RLC, in the country. The partnership will enable the RLC build the capacity of Nigerian students and young people on environmental issues. The campus, which is the fifth of such in the world and the second in Africa, is to be sited at the University of Port Harcourt, UNIPORT.

The Rights Livelihood College is a capacity building initiative of the Rights Livelihood Award Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, which awards annually the “Alternative Nobel Prize”.  It is an opportunity for the awardees of the prestigious prize to impart their knowledge on others, in this case, the younger people. The RLC currently has its Global Secretariat at the Universiti Sains in Penang, Malaysia.

Monika Griefahn

Monika Griefahn, co-chair of the board of trustees, Rights Livelihood Award Foundation and a former German minister of environment, welcomes the new development. “We are very pleased that a Rights Livelihood College campus is being established at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria. The College continues to make positive impact on the lives of young scholars and continues to build direct links between academics, laureates and the wider community. We commend the University of Port Harcourt and the Health of Mother Earth Foundation for engaging in this partnership,” she said.

Also, speaking on behalf of the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Port Harcourt, Fidelis Allen said: “The University of Port Harcourt has remained a citadel of learning and in the best traditions of scholarship. We see the opportunity to host the RLC campus as one that will challenge our scholars as well as connect them with their peers around the world. We are equally pleased with HOMEF for making this partnership possible.”  (The RLC will be hosted in the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Uniport).

Nnimmo Bassey, director of HOMEF, who won the Rights Livelihood Award in 2010, is equally excited at the prospect: “The Niger Delta region of Nigeria has brought so much petroleum-dollar to Nigeria. Sadly, the extraction of the petroleum resources has brought devastation to the environment and livelihoods of the people. We believe that targeted researches here will generate tools for tackling these problems which will, in turn, find application in other challenged territories beyond the Niger Delta. HOMEF is proud to collaborate with Uniport in hosting the RLC campus in Nigeria,” he added.

The RLC is the global capacity building initiative of the Rights Livelihood Award Foundation, based in Stockholm, Sweden. Since inception in 1980, the Rights Livelihood Award, popularly known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”, has been bestowed on 153 laureates from 64 countries. It highlights and supports stellar achievements in the fields of peace and justice, the environment and for the awardee’s endeavours to eliminate material and spiritual poverty.

Joseph Ajienka

Some of the RLC campuses across the world include the Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia; Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia; Center for Development Research, ZEF, University of Bonn, Germany, and Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies, LUCSUS, and Lund University, Sweden.

Besides Bassey, the only other Nigerian to have won the award so far is the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, together with his organisation, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, in 1994.

Uniport will be formally unveiled as the Nigerian chapter of the RLA Campus during the Sustainability Academy (aka Home School) #02 in Port Harcourt scheduled for between  November 25 and 26, 2013. The event will witness the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU. On hand to sign the MoU will be Monika Griefahn, Joseph Ajienka, UNIPORT’s vice chancellor and Bassey, coordinator of the Academy.

A press release signed by Oluwafunmi Oyatogun, communications Officer, HOMEF, said the new partnership would enable UNIPORT post-graduate scholars to have access to the corps of Rights Livelihood laureates as well as exchange opportunities with four other existing campuses across the globe.

— Oct. 21, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT