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Stakeholders seek rights protection in EIA to curb crisis

Stakeholders have called for inclusion of social and human rights protective mechanisms in the Nigerian environmental impact assessment to mitigate crises in extractive laden areas in the country.

Multi-Stakeholders Consultative Meeting
Participants at the Multi-Stakeholders Consultative Meeting in Abuja

The call was made at a one-day Multi-Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on Integrating Social and Human Right Impact Assessment into the Environmental Impact Assessment Policy and Legal Framework on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 in Abuja.

The meeting was organised by a non-governmental organisation, Publish What You Pay (PWYP), with the support of Cordaid.

A press release signed by Taiwo Otitolaye, Project Coordinator and Peter Egbule, National Coordinator, PWYP, identified lack of social and human mechanisms in EIA as responsible for many deaths, degradation and unresolved crisis in oil and gas as well as other solid minerals producing regions.

“This trend has further extended to the solid mineral areas; a good example is the current crisis in Zamfara State,” PWYP said.

“It is therefore to contribute towards bridging the above gaps that we are delighted to further engage with you on the ESHRIA process as a critical partner to help carry along the public for deepening and strengthening the process of ensuring that  citizens’ rights especially communities are part of environmental impacts assessments in project design, implementation; and government decisions.

“ESHRIA involves systematically identifying, predicting and responding to potential social and human rights impacts of business operations; capital projects (oil, gas, solid mineral and other projects); trade agreements; government policies; community relations; and, protecting the civic space.”

The group advocated that business operations follow the due diligence process of community participation (inclusion) in the EIA process (voice of the individuals, communities and their rights taking into consideration in designing projects); companies especially the International Oil Companies (IOCs) involving communities in oil and gas management impacts on their communities and freedom to be part of the process; government at all levels involving communities in decision and policy making process; Governments, communities, International Oil Companies (IOCs) creating conducive environment for dialogues and continouos interface; and biodiversity audits every two years (periodically in a participatory manner).

“Professor John Ruggie who served as the UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights was mandated to lead the way for the establishment of a set of ‘Guiding Principles for the implementation of the Protect, Respect and Remedy framework’.

“These set of principles have been ratified by the United Nations; and have become international standards of doing business.

“The EIA Act currently undergoing the process of amendment is a window of opportunity to get it right. The different stakeholders should work together above personal, sectional and group interests to integrate community voices, inclusion of all concerned in the design and implementation of EIA and biodiversity audits,” PWYP added.

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