International Day of Forests and National Tree Planting Campaign 2016

Goodwill Message by Amina Oyagbola, MTN Nigeria Executive at the International Day of Forests and National Tree Planting Campaign at National Park, Abuja, on Monday, March 21, 2016

The Honourable Minister of Environment,

The Honourable Minister of the FCT,

The Honourable Minister of State for Environment,

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment

Staff of the Ministry,

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Board, Management & Staff of MTN Nigeria, I congratulate the Ministry of Environment for this special event to mark the International Day of Forests with the theme – Forests and Water. We at MTN consider it a privilege to partner with you on this most worthy cause.

Today also marks the start of the National Tree Planting Campaign and I again commend the Federal Government and the Ministry of Environment for leading the battle to protect and preserve our rich and diverse natural resource for generations yet unborn.

Indeed, the importance of forests to the sustenance of mankind is an incontrovertible fact that should not be overlooked. As we know, across the world, millions of people depend on forests for their livelihood, and it provides shelter to over 80% of animal and plant species.

In our part of the world, Nigeria is home to a rich variety of forests and wildlife. Regrettably, this source of National pride has been threatened in recent times by deforestation, the industrial and agricultural logging of wood among other factors.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the U.N, Nigeria loses about 350,000 to 400,000 hectares per year to deforestation, making us not only one of the top 10 countries in the world with the highest rates of deforestation but also the second highest in Africa, behind Sudan.

These statistics represent a real and present danger for our nation and all stakeholders in the public and private sector must work together to save our trees and the environment as a whole.

On our part, MTN remains committed to and will continue to work with government at all levels, to promote sound environmentally-friendly practices while also demonstrating our adherence to these practices through our business activities and operations.

As part of our drive for a more eco-friendly workplace, we have taken several steps to secure the prestigious ISO 14000 certification across all our operations which speaks to our support for a worldwide focus on environmental management.

To this end, we have organized environmental systems management awareness campaigns for over 2,600 of our staff, while promoting strong internal awareness for improved environmental performance.

Over the last 15 years, we have complied with various international environmental regulations and ensured environmental safety in relation to our employees, operations, locations, products/services and our communities, through strict adherence to various environmental and safety policies.

We relentlessly continue to explore avenues to partner with relevant Government, regulatory and private sector stakeholders, to promote within and across our ecosystem, safer, environmentally-friendly practices among our employees, partners, suppliers and customers, even as we pursue our business objectives.

Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to end with a statement by prominent American biologist, Edward Wilson who once remarked: “Destroying forests for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal”.

This speaks to the urgent and critical importance for everyone – both corporates and individuals, to understand and appreciate that we must serve the environment for it to serve us.

MTN is proud to stand with the Nigerian Government today, the International Day of Forests, as we affirm our commitment to preserving our environment, now and always.

Thank you very much for listening.

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