With growing concerns about oil exploration activities in the Niger Delta, air and water pollution, associated with continued urbanization and industrialization, the Federal government last week initiated moves to review its 17 year-old National Policy on Environment.
Nigeria formulated its first national policy on the environment in 1991. It was revised in 1999, and the current revision is to capture emerging environmental issues and concerns. The policy defines a new holistic framework to guide the management of the environment and natural resources of the country.
Under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Environment with the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a Stakeholders’ Validation Workshop was held last week in Abuja to validate the National Policy on Environment. It brought together senior government officials, development partners, experts, civil society groups and media.
As a framework document, the proposed policy prescribes sectoral and cross-sectoral strategic policy statements and actions for the management of the country’s environment for sustainable development.
Nigeria’s environment is under increasing threat from human activities and natural disasters. The key environmental issues facing Nigeria include land degradation, deforestation, and land, water and air pollution among others.
Speaking at the workshop, the Minister of State Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibrin, said if the nation’s environmental foundations are depleted, its economy would decline, its social fabric may deteriorate and its political structure may even be affected.
“Recent evidences point to the fact that our interaction with the environment is creating a number of serious challenges such as land degradation, flooding drought, desertification, sheet, gully and coastal erosion and loss of biodiversity due to global climate change, “ he said.
For Jibrin, the major challenge is to improve the approach to management of the surrounding by adopting sustainable concept to increase productivity and livelihoods of the people, adding, development would not be possible if this increases vulnerability to environmental impacts.
He said it has become imperative that government institutionizes and strengthens capacities for sustainable environment governance in order to contribute to the achievement of economic development, security and poverty reduction in the country.
His words: “The review is therefore pertinent as many emerging issues have today become the main challenges at global, regional and national levels. One of the most important of these is climate change which already affects on of the many aspects of our national life.
The minister thanked development partners, especially UNDP for its supports and participation in the process of giving Nigeria an important tool for environmental sustainability.
UNDP Country Director, Dr. Pa Lamin Beyai, noted that the newly launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), neatly fuses human development and sustainable development. “As we go through the validation meeting, let us pay particular attention to the various sections of the policy that would enable us achieve our desired goals. I have no doubt that, together we can promote, build a sustainable and healthy environment for our existence,” he said.
According to him, “the known drivers of environmental degradation are population growth, inappropriate technology and consumption choices, and poverty. Other drivers include lack of clarity or enforcement of rights of access, and use of environmental resources. This policy becomes handy in filling that gap.”
Dr. Beyai observed that the policy will guide to action in regulatory reform, programmes, and projects for environmental conservation, reviews and enactment of legislation, at the Federal, State, and Local Government levels.
“We live in a complex environment, which is a life supporting system for human survival. While a properly managed environment can be geared towards productive requirements, a poorly managed one could easily threaten human survival,” he added.