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Chemicals management policy underway

A collaboration involving the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Swedish Chemicals Agency and the Federal Ministry of Environment is executing a project aimed at mainstreaming sound management of chemicals into the Millennium Development Goals-based plans and policies.

A week ago in Abuja, participants at a two-day event rose at the close of the forum and adopted the draft final report on Sound Management of Chemicals (SMC) in Nigeria.

The report focused on baseline analysis of SMC regimes in the country and identified SMC priority issues of utmost importance for mainstreaming into the long term development plans in the nation’s Vision 20:2020 Economic Transformation Blueprint.

SMC is the application of managerial best practices to chemicals through their life cycle to prevent and, where this is not possible, to reduce or minimise the potential for exposure of people and the environment to toxic and hazardous chemicals. It is directly concerned with implementation of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) principles in support of the achievement of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) goal and in accordance with the Dubai Declaration on International Chemicals Management (ICM).

The Nigeria-UNDP mainstreaming project is linked with the UNDP-UNEP partnership initiative and seeks to assist the government in recognising and assessing the opportunities for incorporating SMC into its developmental policies and plans.

The project will, among other things, improve capacity for the sustainable development of man and the environment; improve knowledge in chemical handling, thereby reducing risk of exposure and attendant health consequences; and, serve as poverty reduction strategy as sound chemical management reduces expenditure on health as well as its vital role to the accomplishment of the MDG goals and mitigation of climate change.

The project objectives include: qualifying the links between priority of major chemical management problem areas and human health and environmental quality; identifying areas of the national SMC governance regime that urgently needs strengthening; developing a realistic phased plan for strengthening the national SMC governance regime; assisting to qualify the costs of inaction/benefits of action in planning/finance/economic language regarding major chemical management problem areas and propose a path forward to mainstream the highest priority SMC issues in the country’s MDG-based development planning.

National Co-ordinator, Bello Hakeem Adediran, explained that after the report was presented to and reviewed by stakeholders early in the year, a concept paper on the two highest priorities for mainstreaming into the Nigeria Vision 20:2020 economic transformation has been developed. He said it utilising a series of Medium-Term National Development Plans, as part of the second National Implementation Plan scheduled to take off in 2014 has been developed.

The concept, he explained, includes rationale for costing of SMC investments by estimating and quantifying the cost of inaction and the costs of action which will help to make appropriate choices and to document the economic trade-offs.

“The costs of inaction in the concept papers will include valuing ecosystem services for SMC; incorporating the public health costs and benefits of chemicals in national development planning for agriculture, mining, leather/textiles and waste management sectors and accounting for environment and health effects in cost-benefit analysis of chemicals use,” he added. In addition to this is the development of a draft economic cost benefit analysis framework of the project which was presented to the stakeholders.

Project consultant, Bosun Oladimeji, explained that the results of the economic and policy analysis will be used to update the two issue concept papers with findings sent to the Federal Ministries of Finance and National Planning for action.

“In addition, the best opportunities to influence national development process will be identified and used to develop the mainstreaming roadmap,” he said.

UNDP international Environmental Economist, Jaime Echeverria, explained that the project is part of worldwide initiative called the Life Cycle Management of Chemicals that recognises the importance of the chemicals to the economy but at the same time recognising that, if are not well managed, may have health effect on the people and the ecosystem.

According to him, it involves the execution of situation assessment to document SMC situation in the country and lead to putting it in dollar term, the impact of not acting and the cost of acting.

“We believe the benefits of acting in the management of SMC in Nigeria are larger,” he said.

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