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Incorporating sound chemicals management in MDGs, Vision 20/2020 dreams

Chemical PixExperts have underlined the need for a well-coordinated mechanism that would ensure the eventual incorporation of sound chemicals management priorities and recommended activities in the Vision 20/2020 document. They likewise observed that the endeavour is essential to attaining the millennium development goals (MDGs).

Besides the overlapping of organisational responsibilities at the national, regional and local levels, they are however worried that activities of bodies charged with the responsibility of ensuring that chemicals do not present adverse effects to human health and the environment are inadequately coordinated, thereby resulting in gaps in the area of importation, registration, use/handling, disposal, compliance monitoring/enforcement, as well as workers’ health/safety.

The eggheads gathered last week in Abuja at the instance of the Nigeria-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project on Mainstreaming Sound Management of Chemicals (SMC) into MDG-based Development Plans and Policies. Funded by the Swedish Chemicals Agency (KEMI), the project came to a formal close on Tuesday as participants gathered to review the SMC Roadmap.

Hitherto, the project had: developed, reviewed and endorsed a National SMC Situation Report; endorsed two key SMC priority issues for Nigeria; developed, reviewed and endorsed concept note document for SMC priority issues; developed, reviewed and endorsed policy options to address the identified SMC priority issues; developed, reviewed and endorsed cost of action document to address identified SMC priority issues; developed, reviewed and endorsed cost benefit analysis document to justify government expenditure on SMC; and, developed the SMC action plan/roadmap.

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In line with the project document, the developed action plan/roadmap was subjected to stakeholder review and endorsement at a daylong venture that officially ended the Mainstreaming SMC project.

Drawing over a hundred participants from government, academia, private sector, professional associations, media and non-governmental organisations, the project sought to: qualify the links between priority major chemical management problem areas, identify areas of the national chemical management governance regime that needs strengthening most urgently, develop a realistic phased plan for strengthening the national chemical management governance regime, assist to quantify the costs of inaction/benefits of action in planning/finance/economic language regarding major chemical management problem, and propose a path forward to mainstream the highest priority chemical management issues in Nigeria’s MDG-based development planning.

At the end of last week’s event, participants urged government to leverage resources for the implementation of conceptualised projects to address SMC priorities in Nigeria as, according to them, implementing it would bring about poverty reduction, improve maternal health, reduce infant mortality, increase child enrolment in school and ultimately pave way for the most desired sustainable development of man and the environment.

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Apart from including in their annual capital budget proposals, relevant projects articulated in the SMC document, government organisations were advised to seize the opportunity of the ongoing review process by the National Planning Commission (NPC) and endeavour to include projects and programmes articulated in the national SMC action plan/document while submitting proposals to the NPC.

Essentially, the SMC report identified 11 SMC priority areas, which included: Constitutional Provision for Governance through Enabling Policy and Legislative Framework for SMC in Nigeria; Government Institutional Capacity; Risk Assessment; Risk Management; Risk Communication Strategies for Awareness Raising, Outreach and Education; Remediation; National Waste Management Strategy for Toxic and Hazardous Wastes; Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response; Diagnosis and Treatment for Intoxication; Knowledge and Information; and Illegal International Trans-boundary Movement and Dumping of Wastes.

On extensive deliberation on the review of the draft national situation report, four of the above-mentioned SMC priorities were further condensed by consensus to two. They included: Strengthening SMC Governance, legal framework and institutional infrastructure including capacity building and mainstreaming of SMC; and Risk Management including hazards communication strategies for awareness raising, outreach and education.

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On subjecting the endorsed SMC priorities to policy option analysis, the cost of taking action to mitigate the adverse impact of chemicals on human health and the environment amounts to $405.3 million over a four-year period (2014-2017).

The cost benefit analysis study carried out in the course of the SMC project supported taking action to improve sound management of chemicals to move forward the country’s development agenda. The analysis further demonstrated that benefits expected from mainstreaming SMC are significant, diverse and permanent.

Participants described the net present value (NPV) as positive, even when sensitivity analysis was carried out and costs increased and benefits decreased, the NPV was still positive and the benefit/cost ratio was 1.56.

The project was considered viable and recommended for execution. The action plan/roadmap for mainstreaming of SMC into the 2nd National Implementation Plan for the Vision 20/2020 document (2014-2017) has been drawn, targeting the on-going review process of the first implementation plan.

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