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York University Honours Nigerian Environmentalist Rev. Nnimmo Bassey with Prestigious Doctorate



York University Honours Nigerian Environmentalist Rev. Nnimmo Bassey with Prestigious Doctorate

In a heartwarming ceremony held on Friday, October 13, at York University in Toronto, Canada, the esteemed Nigerian environmental advocate, Rev. Nnimmo Bassey, was awarded an honorary doctorate of law degree. This distinguished recognition celebrated Bassey’s remarkable contributions to environmental activism and his unwavering commitment to fostering a sustainable planet.


Bassey, an alumnus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and an accomplished architect hailing from Akwa Ibom, is not only a member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) for Environmental Activism but also serves as the Executive Director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), a prominent environmental-focused Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).


The announcement of this honor was made by Miss Kome Odhomor, Media/Communication Lead at HOMEF, who expressed immense pride in Bassey’s accomplishments. The event was a part of the university’s 64th convocation ceremony, underlining York University’s dedication to advancing teaching, research, and experiential education across various disciplines.


Bassey was presented as a worthy candidate for the Doctorate honoris causa by Prof. Alice J. Hovorka, the Dean of the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University. In her citation, she emphasized Bassey’s role as a passionate advocate for sustainability and environmental justice, stressing the impact of his work on present and future generations.


Hovorka’s words illuminated Bassey’s journey from a Nigerian architect to one of Africa’s leading advocates for environmental and human rights. She highlighted his co-founding of Environmental Rights Action (ERA) in the early 1990s, which paved the way for the creation of Oilwatch International in 1996. This network has been pivotal in resisting fossil fuel extraction in the Global South and has been at the forefront of the “Keep Oil in the Ground” campaign, a rallying point for climate activists worldwide.


Furthermore, Bassey’s contributions to counter-hegemonic scholarship and activism, along with his founding of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) in 2013, were recognized. His visionary FishNet Alliance has united artisanal fishers from multiple African countries in the fight against destructive extractive activities in aquatic ecosystems.


In addition to his environmental activism, Bassey’s work as a writer and poet, often blending art and environmental protection, was commended. He has not only articulated the urgency of environmental challenges but also inspired countless individuals to stand up for the planet and its inhabitants.


Throughout his journey, Bassey has displayed remarkable leadership in advocating for ambitious action and creative solutions, which have earned him global recognition in environmental advocacy, climate justice, and food sovereignty. He has received numerous accolades, including the Right Livelihood Award, the Rafto Prize, and recognition as a Hero of the Environment by Time Magazine in 2009.


In his acceptance speech titled “Build Solidarity, not Walls,” Bassey expressed gratitude for the honor bestowed upon him by York University. He shared his life experiences, from growing up in the shadow of colonialism to enduring the Biafra-Nigeria civil war, which fueled his commitment to environmental rights as the foundation of the right to life.


Bassey emphasized the urgent need to address extractivism and its devastating impact on both people and the planet. He called for a shift away from carbon trading and a focus on decolonizing territories to build a just and sustainable world. His speech resonated with a global audience, advocating for collective efforts to demand justice, end ecocide, and restore hope for future generations.

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