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Govt, experts review environmental permits, licensing systems regulations

The Federal Government has started the process of reviewing the National Environmental (Permitting and Licensing Systems) Regulations, S.I. 29, 2009, to address areas of gaps in trending and emerging environmental issues.

Innocent Barikor
Dr Innocent Barikor, Director-General, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESERA)

Speaking at the expert critique meeting for the review on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Abuja, Dr Innocent Barikor, the Director-General, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESERA), said the document sought to strengthen environmental laws.

He said that the regulation also aimed at improving air quality and environmental conservation and avoidance of exposure to waste and hazardous substances.

“The regulation seeks to achieve statutory environmental targets and outcomes.

“Such as improvement in air quality, environmental conservation and avoidance of exposure to waste and hazardous substances by issuing Environmental Permits to the Regulated Community.

“These permits have significantly aided the agency to achieve her mandate of ensuring compliance with environmental laws, policies, standards and guidelines.

“However, in the course of operationalising the provisions of these regulations in the last 15 years, some gaps were identified.

“These gaps included trending and emerging environmental issues such as climate change, marine pollution and biodiversity conservation which are of global concern.’’

Barikor said that the factors necessitated NESERA to seek for assistance through the Quick Wins of its 5-Year Impact Plan from the UNEP-LEAP Small Scale Funding Agreement (SSFA).

He said this was under the Montevideo Programme V to facilitate the review of the regulation.

The director-general said that permitting and licensing regulations was the backbone that provided the necessary structure to balance growth and innovation and public safety.

“However, as with any system, there is always room for improvement, thus, the need for the ongoing efforts to refine and enhance our regulatory processes,” he said.

He said that the agency had so far conducted desktops reviews/documentations and interacted with relevant stakeholders across the six geo-political zones.

The director-general said that the agency also interacted with stakeholders from the 35 States of the federation through its zonal and state field offices.

Barikor urged stakeholders to consider the review process as a testament to the agency’s commitment in leaving a legacy of environmental sustainability for generations to come.

An expert, Mr Victor Ojogbo, said that the issue of the environment was critical.

Ojogbo, a former Director, Department of Planning and Policy Analysis, NESERA, said that the essence of the review was to examine the issues of offences, penalties for defaulters as well as enforcement by the agency.

He said that the review would also ensure that the regulators and regulated were placed on their toes for a seamless enforcement.

“I said that the issue of the environment is not to be treated with kids’ glove; because if it affects me; it affects you and then the environment,” he said.

By Doris Esa

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