‘Amendment of EIA Act Will Help Tackle Emerging Global Challenges’

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed has said an amendment of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act will help the country in tackling current global challenges and emerging issues like global warming.

The Minister stated this in Abuja at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by Wetland International, Africa, in partnership with the ministry, where she stressed that the ministry was making efforts towards sustainable management of wetlands in the country, including the preparation of a National Management Policy.

The policy, she said, would expectedly incorporate a system of EIA and environmental monitoring so that adverse environmental impacts could be foreseen, eliminated or mitigated.

Mohammed, who was represented by the Director of Environmental Assessment, Mr. John Alonge, said reviewing the Act is not specific to the oil and gas sector alone, but noted that the revision cut across all sectors of the economy, in order to tackle the emerging global issues in conformity with international best practices.

According to her, “If we are looking at it now, the way things are, the way the international best practices are going, there is a gap. This is an Act that was established about two decades ago, and if you look at the global trend, the climate change is coming in, the equator principle is there, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has its own standards, and what we have presently cannot reflect the way at which IFC standards and the equator principle is going.”

She added that, “we must at the end of the day make sure we are on the same page, and then therefore we have to revise the Act, in order to reflect the areas of weaknesses and gaps, so that we can be in line with international global practices.”

She emphasised that the Niger Delta wetland is rich in biodiversity and also of high economic importance to local and national development, while lamenting that it has however been under severe threat from human activities, especially pollution from oil, agriculture, development and climate change.

To protect and sustainably manage the Niger Delta wetlands, Mohammed noted that there was need not just to put strict regulatory policies and sanctions on pollution in place, but also to implement them.

In pushing for the amendment of the Act that was enacted in 1992, Mohammed stressed that the ministry inaugurated a committee in 2014 to review the Act, though, she added that the review was done with the help of all the agencies, but stressed that the amendment has not gotten to the National Assembly.

Earlier, the Africa Regional Director of Wetland, Mr. Ibrahima Thiam said the Niger Delta and other places in Nigeria have significant natural resources, but stressed that the oil and gas sector has actually affected the natural resources.

He said, “That it is why it is very important for Nigeria as it happens in other countries to do environmental impact assessment so that they can help reconcile development objectives with the environmental needs.

“I think now in Nigeria, we have environmental impact assessment being done, our goal today is to convene the experts and other stakeholders from the oil and gas industry, also from civil society, and from government administration to discuss how we can improve environmental impact assessment, and build knowledge that can be useful for government to pursue development goals.”

The assessment, Thiam noted, would also make extraction of oil happen in a way that would take into account the existence of natural resources, and the way they serve the communities in their daily life.