Experts want environmental, social concerns in projects



Determined to promote sustainable development, environmental practitioners have tasked appropriate authorities on the need to review the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act, especially in terms of clear separation of responsibilities between the three tiers of government.

In their views, more actions must be taken to promote the principles of total inclusiveness and building of a baseline data bank for EIA activities in the country. They also sought for more attention on the socio-economic and health risks assessment of projects before they are been executed for developmental purposes.

They spoke at the Workshop on Improving Nigeria’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAS) organised by Environmental Resource Centre and sponsored by Heinrich Boll Stiftung in Lagos, where Dr. Irekpitan Okukpon of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), said EIA needs to be strengthened to give the required results in-line with international best practice.

Speaking on  “Improving environmental and social impact assessment in Nigeria: integrating environmental and social considerations into development projects”, Okukpon said considerations for the social impacts of the environment before carrying a project must include the quality of the air and water people use; the availability and quality of the food they eat; the level of hazard or risk, the adequacy of sanitation, physical safety, as well as control over resources.

“The necessary factors to achieving ESIA in Nigeria must include the adoption and application of key principles which are legally established, clear and transparent. There was the need for access to information by civil societies and the governments and best available scientific information which are evidence-based for decision-making, effective monitoring and enforcement”.

In her contributions, an environmental consultant, Dr. Oluwatoyin Adejonwo-Osho, stated that EIA must promote sustainable development through the identification of appropriate enhancement, alternatives and mitigation measures.

She added that the Social Impact Assessment should focus on the identification and management of environmental social risks, which would in turn; contribute to the reduction of poverty and a sustainable increase in the prosperity of citizens.

“An effective ESIA framework will: assist policy makers and project proponents in achieving good international practice relating to environmental and social sustainability would assist in fulfilling national environmental and social obligations. It would enhance non-discrimination and serve as a governance tool for transparency, participation, accountability and support Nigeria’s implementation of its INDCs under the Paris Agreement in promoting efficiency in project execution and reducing emission from projects”, she revealed.

Director of ERC, Newton Jibunoh, represented by Keith Richard noted that the EIA process at present was at variance with intentions especially as it affects the execution and implementation of developmental projects in Nigeria urging stakeholders to get better understanding of the need for in-depth examination of its important role in the project roll-out. According to him, they need to understand their responsibility in the process for effective participation.

Other speakers at the plenary which include Bayo Adenekan, Soneye Alabi, Sanuth Hassan, Nosa Aigbedion, Celina Maduemezia, Huzi Mshelia amongst others.

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