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Nigeria evaluates 23-year-old National Policy on Environment

Twenty-three years after it was first formulated in 1991 and 15 years after its revision in 1999, Nigeria has embarked on the process of reviewing the National Policy on Environment (NPE) blueprint.

Participants at the review forum of the National Policy on Environment
Participants at the review forum of the National Policy on Environment

The endeavour is informed by the fact that the existing policy document is outdated, in the light of the emergence in recent years of topical issues that require urgent attention and policy guidelines to address.

For two days last week in Abuja, stakeholders tabled the text for scrutiny and attempted to redefine holistic NPE framework to guide the management of the environment as well as natural resource.

Mede Nana Fatima, Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Environment (FMoE), said at the opening of the event that, in order for the ministry to deliver on its mandate, a key instrument that will guide it is the NPE.

She added: “Nigeria formulated its first Policy on Environment in 1991. The document was revised in 1999 and for 15 years running, the nation has been using the same document despite the continuous emergence of topical environmental issues that require attention and relevant policy guidelines to address.

“It is in consideration of the above and the need to appreciate the trade-offs between present and future consumption pattern of our resources and the challenges imbedded therein that call for careful analysis of the situation in order to effectively and efficiently facilitate the exploration and exploitation of these resources to achieve sustainable economic growth that informed the ministry of the need to carry out a holistic review of the policy.”

Director of Planning, Research & Statistics, FMoE, Yomi Ladapo (represented by Halima Mohammed, Assistant Director & GEF Desk Officer), submitted that the environment is the life supporting system for human existence and survival, as it provides much of the physical social setting and the raw materials required for socio-economic progress.

“Nevertheless, we have no choice than to interact with it. But human interaction, natural disaster and climate change are putting so much pressure and impact on the quality of our environmental conditions. If the environment is properly managed, it can also be a productive resource to meet our socio-economic and tasteful needs, not only for today, but also for future generations. The objective of the meeting is to redefine holistic National Policy on the Environment framework to guide the management of the environment and natural resources of the country.”

At the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-supported event, Pa Lamin Beyai, UNDP Country Director (represented by Muyiwa Odele, Team Leader, Environment & Sustainable Development), described the review and validation meeting of the NPE as a crucial step in capturing diverse views and perspectives of all stakeholders, and establishing the multi-sectoral partnership needed for successful implementation.

According to him, the new NPE is expected to reflect key emerging issues from the Post 2015 development dialogues/agenda and the linkages with climate change and disaster risks management in the country.

Nnimmo Bassey, environmental activist and member of the NPE review process, observed: “A review of the NPE has been long overdue. A lot of things have changed since the current policy was prepared and the need to have a comprehensive review cannot be over emphasised.

“A policy of this nature is a coherent blueprint that brings in one document all key actions that need to be taken on the environment. We have a peculiar situation in Nigeria where laws and regulations on the environment are scattered in various Acts and laws that are not focused on the environment. The Policy helps to focus attention on actions that must be taken to ensure that we consider sustainability as the bedrock for all we do.

“I’m impressed with the inputs brought by government agencies into the document via the validation process. What remains once the policy is adopted will be, as they say, the political will to consider the environment and the people before the profit requirements of corporations and agencies whose focus is to plunder our resources.”

The policy identified key sectors requiring integration of environmental concerns and sustainability with development.  It presented specific guidelines for achieving sustainable development in the following fourteen sectors of Nigeria’s economy: Human Population; Land Use and Soil Conservation; Water Resources Management; Forestry, Wildlife and Protected Natural Areas; Marine and Coastal Area Resources; Sanitation and Waste Management; Toxic and Hazardous Substances; Mining and Mineral Resources; Agricultural Chemicals; Energy Production; Air Pollution; Noise in the Working Environment; Settlements; Recreational Space, Green Belts, Monuments, and Cultural Property.

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