Time for justice

"When a man stands alone he can easily be broken. When we stand together, then we are strengthened to forge ahead." - Nnimmo Bassey

As chair of Friends of the Earth International, Nnimmo Bassey speaks for a network of more than 2 million supporters across 77 countries.

The 51-year-old also heads up Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth Nigeria).

Now he's been named among Time magazine's Heroes of the Environment 2009.

With the Nigeria group he's campaigned since the early 1990s on critical issues from genetic modification to the impact of the oil industry in the Niger Delta.

It is work that has often put him on a collision course with the authorities.

He told Time magazine that it was a massacre in 1990 by the country's armed forces that drove him to championing the environment. 

If people don't have a safe environment to live in, then they don't have literally any other rights.

Nnimmo has lead outstanding work to end gas flaring in the Delta - a practice he describes as "completely wasteful, destructive, and showing a total disregard for the environment".

Being part of an international movement with real clout has made him profoundly optimistic. "If I had no conviction that we could change the world, I would not be in the struggle. 

I’m convinced that if we seize every opportunity that comes our way, we will make changes and this will be real.

"We hope our environmental heroes provide both inspiration and action", says Time magazine. "They are heroes because they set out to discover what that opportunity might be."