Nnimmo Bassey (born 1958) is a Nigerian architect, environmentalist activist, author and poet, who chaired Friends of the Earth International from 2008 through 2012  and was Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action for two decades. He was one of Time magazine's Heroes of the Environment in 2009. In 2010, Nnimmo Bassey was named co-winner of the Right Livelihood Award, and in 2012 he was awarded the Rafto Prize. He serves on the Advisory Board and is Director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, an environmental think tank and advocacy organization.
Bassey was born June 11, 1958. He studied architecture, practiced in the public sector (for 10 years) and thereafter continued in private practice. He was active on human rights issues in the 1980s when he served on the Board of Directors of Nigeria's Civil Liberties Organization. In 1993, he co-founded a Nigerian NGO known as Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth Nigeria) in order to advocate, educate and organize around environmental human rights issues in Nigeria. Since 1996, Bassey and Environmental Rights Action led Oilwatch Africa and, beginning in 2006, also led the Global South Network, Oilwatch International, striving to mobilize communities against the expansion of fossil fuels extraction. Bassey has served in the committees of both Oilwatch International and the regional arm, Oilwatch Africa since inception. Oilwatch Africa has membership in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Congo Democratic Republic, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Togo, Kenya, Swaziland, Mozambique, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan and others. Membership of Oilwatch International spreads across South America, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. The Network works to resist destructive oil, gas and coal extraction activities. It demands an urgent shift from the dominant petroleum-fueled civilization. In 2011, Bassey founded the Ecological think tank, the Health of Mother Earth Foundation promoting environmental/climate justice and food sovereignty in Nigeria and Africa.  At the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Bassey - despite being accredited - was "physically kept out" of a meeting.
To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa Publisher: Fahamu (Jul 1 2010) ISBN 1-906387-53-2 ISBN 978-1-906387-53-2
Other books by Bassey include: 1. Patriots & Cockroaches (Poems) 1992 2. Beyond Simple Lines: the Architecture of Chief G.Y. Aduku and Archcon (with Okechukwu Nwaeze) 1993 3. The Management of Construction  4. Poems on The Run (Poems) 1994 5. Oilwatching in South America (Environment)  6. Intercepted (Poems) 1998 7. We Thought It Was Oil But It Was Blood (Poems), 2002 8. Genetically Modified Organisms: the African Challenge (2004) 9. Living Houses (Architecture), 2005 10. Knee Deep in Crude, ERA Field Reports, ed (2009) 11. The Nigerian Environment and the Rule of Law, ed (2009) 12. I will Not Dance to Your Beat (poems) , Kraft Books, Ibadan. 2011 13. We Thought It Was Oil But It Was Blood- Resistance to Military-Corporate Wedlock in Nigeria and Beyond. (TNI/Pluto Press, 2015) 14. Oil Politics- Echoes of Ecological Wars- (Daraja Press, 2016) Trade and human rights in the Niger Delta.
Environmental Rights Action is also known as Friends of the Earth Nigeria and is the national chapter of Friends of the Earth International (FOEI), the world’s largest grassroots environmental network. From 2008-2012, Bassey served as chair of Friends of the Earth International.
Bassey’s and Environmental Rights Action’s major campaigning focus is oil, and the enormous damage being caused to Nigerian communities and other countries in the region (Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Sudan), where oil is produced. He also works on supporting a broad movement across sub-tropical African countries where new finds of oil are being made.
Oil spills & gas flaring in the Niger Delta
It has been estimated that spills equivalent to the size of that from the Exxon Valdez have occurred in the Niger Delta every year over the past 50 years. Bassey says that there are at least 300 (major and minor) spills every year. The Nigerian Government has established that there were more than 3200 spills between 2006 and 2010. Many have not been cleared up; few lead to compensation payments. Life expectancy in the Niger Delta is 41 years, compared to 48 years nationally in Nigeria.
Shell claims that 98% of its spills are caused by theft, vandalism or sabotage by militants and that it is “committed to cleaning up any spill as fast as possible as soon as and for whatever reason it occurs”. Environmental Rights Action and the local communities blame rusting pipes and other deteriorating infrastructure and say that companies are often slow to respond. Convinced that the costs of the oil production are far greater than its benefits, Bassey demands that we “leave the oil in the soil”.
Environmental Rights Action has led lawsuits against oil companies on behalf of many communities in Nigeria for liability for damage to their people and environment.
Since 1996, Bassey and Environmental Rights Action have led Oilwatch Africa and since 2006 have also led the global South network, Oilwatch International, 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. Today, Bassey coordinates Oilwatch International.
In addition to its work on oil spills, Environmental Rights Action has campaigned against gas flaring, winning a landmark ruling by a Nigerian High Court in 2005 stating that gas flaring is unconstitutional, damages people and the environment, and must stop.
GMOs, biofuels and food sovereignty
The other major area of Environmental Rights Action’s work is GMOs (genetically modified organisms), agrofuels and food sovereignty. Friends of the Earth organisations in Africa created a regional campaign in this area in 2004 and Bassey worked as an international campaigner on GMO issues from 2004-2008. In 2009, field-testing of genetically modified cassava was introduced in Nigeria, and Bassey sees a big risk that African agriculture will be contaminated by GMOs.
Further activities & outreach
In Nigeria, Environmental Rights Action trains people on environmental monitoring and gives legal support to communities affected by environmental damage. Bassey has been directly involved in community monitoring as well as media training for Nigerian journalists. In addition, Environmental Rights Action under Bassey’s oversight hosted the secretariat of the Africa Tobacco Control Regional Initiative and coordinated the Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance. In 2013, Bassey started dedicating more time to grow a new think-tank and advocacy organisation called Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF).
In 1998, Environmental Rights Action won the Sophie Prize for its work on environmental justice, and in 2009 the Bloomberg Award for tobacco control activism. Bassey was named by TIME magazine as a 2009 “Hero of the Environment”. He writes poetry as well as of campaigning and research documents. One of Bassey’s books is entitled Knee Deep in Crude (2009). In 2012 Nnimmo Bassey was awarded the Rafto Human Rights Prize.