Green Africa Champion: Nnimmo Bassey

Nnimmo Bassey

Photo credit: Romel de Vera / FoEI

Nnimmo Bassey is a Nigerian environmental and human rights activist who is well renowned for his active campaigning against the detrimental environmental and social effects of oil industries in Nigeria and surrounding regions (including oil spills and gas flaring). Bassey is also known more recently for campaigning against inadequate and inappropriate solutions being proposed regarding climate change.

Bassey is the current Chair of Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) and Executive Director of the Nigerian ngo, Environmental Rights Action, which he co-founded in 1993. Bassey was born on 11 June 1958. He is an architect and worked in the public sector for ten years before he first became involved in human rights activism as a member of the Board of Directors of Nigeria’s Civil Liberties Organisation in the 1980s.

Environmental sustainability achievements

In 1998, Environmental Rights Action won the Sophie Prize for environment and sustainable development and in 2009 the Bloomberg Award for tobacco control activism. Bassey was named one of TIME magazine’s 2009 “Heroes of the Environment”. In 2010, Nnimmo Bassey was named co-winner of the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize).

Organisational links

Environmental Rights Action hosts the secretariat of the Africa Tobacco Control Regional Initiative and coordinates the Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance.

Bassey and Environmental Rights Action have led Oilwatch Africa since 1996 and Oilwatch International since 2006, through which they seek to mobilize communities in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Congo (Brazzaville), Ghana, and Uganda as well as South America and South East Asia to resist destructive oil and gas extraction activities.  

About the Green Africa Champion series

Green Africa Directory is keen to celebrate and highlight Green African Champions: people who have contributed significantly to environmental sustainability in Africa.  Each month, Green Africa Directory will select one person to feature as an African environmental champion. Our aim is to share success stories and to create inspiration for others. We welcome nominations for the Green Africa Champion of the Month. Email with your name, contact details, nominated champion and their organization name.

Listen to Nnimmo Bassey’s acceptance speech upon receiving the Right Livelihood Award in 2010:

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