NEITI Hails Winner Of 2022 Goldman Environment Prize For Africa, Chima Williams

Barrister Chima Williams

By Gift Eguavoen

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has hailed Nigeria’s foremost environmentalist, Barrister Chima Williams, for clinching the 2022 Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa. Williams is one of the six winners of this year’s prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

In his congratulatory message to the environmental activist, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, described Chima Williams’ win as victory for environmental justice to oil, gas and mining host communities in Nigeria.

“It is also an encouraging development to NEITI’s commitment to push the boundaries of civic space in tackling environmental degradation in Nigeria which is in line with EITI standards”. Dr Orji said.

Extractive360 reports that Chima Williams, a lawyer and founding member of the Civil Society Steering Committee of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) won the Prize for Africa as a result of his leadership in championing  environmental justice in the Niger Delta through his legal fight for the clean-up of the Ogoni land especially helping three communities in the Niger Delta – Oruma, Goi and Ikot Ada Udo communities in Ogoni land of Bayelsa State to win the 13-year-old case for the oil spills and environmental damages against Shell at The Hague.

He was also part of the legal team that litigated the action against gas flaring in the Iwherekan community in Delta State in 2005.

Dr Orji noted that Williams through the years has been committed and dogged in his advocacy for justice and equity for vulnerable citizens, especially those who reside in the Niger Delta region.

Winners from other continents include Niwat Roykaew of Thailand who won the prize for Asia, Marjan Minnessma of the Netherlands who won the prize for Europe and Juliet Vincent who picked the prize for Australia. Others are Nalleli Cobo of the United States who collected the prize for North America as well as Alex Luciatante and Alexandra Narvaez from Ecuador who jointly won the prize for South America.

The global award, known as Nobel Prize for grassroots advocacy to protect the environment was announced in a virtual ceremony held on May 25th 2022 due to Covid 19 restrictions.

“We hope that as Nigeria moves into environmental reporting, Barrister Williams, a valuable resource person on environmental issues, will bring his wealth of experience, skills, and expertise to guide and complement our efforts as we engage the sector”. Dr Orji stated, according to a statement by NEITI’s Deputy Director/Head Communications & Advocacy, Obiageli Onuorah.

The Goldman Environmental Prize started in 1989 and is awarded annually to honor the achievements and leadership of grassroots environmental activists from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions. The Prize recognizes individuals for their sustained significant efforts in protecting the environment and seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.

Barrister Chima Williams is the third Nigerian to receive the Prize after the late environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa won it in 1995.

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