Centre advocates establishment of databank for environmental impact studies

Swampy Niger Delta Region (Photo Credit: Guardian NG)

The establishment of a databank of environmental baseline studies and conditions is urgently needed to ensure effective and efficient management of information on Nigeria’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process, the Environmental Resource Centre (ERC) has said.

This was disclosed at the presentation of the policy brief by the ERC in Abuja on Tuesday on improving Nigeria’s ESIA.

The establishment of the online databank was a recommendation by the ERC in partnership with Heinrich Boll Stiftung Nigeria to tackle the problem of fabricated and inadequate baseline data they identified in the ESIA process in Nigeria.

According to the policy brief, inadequacies in the current ESIA process had been identified from literature review, result of questionnaires administered on relevant stakeholders, and roundtables workshops on improving the ESIA process in Nigeria.

These include: Fabricated and inadequate baseline data; cost of compliance is high, thus incentive for compliance is low; inadequate and inconsistent participatory process; operations as a stand-alone process; limited resources and capacity and weak follow-up and monitoring process.

“In order to ensure that the ongoing review of the EIA Act 1992 is effective, in line with global best practices, and able to contribute to the ultimate goal of achieving sustainable development, certain measures must be put in place,” the brief noted.

Another recommendation made in the policy brief was that there should be an upward review of the monetary penalties of between five to N10 million in the case of a firm or corporation and N500,000 to N2 million for individuals.

Also, it was recommended that an Alternate Dispute Resolution procedure be explored although the Act provides for the adoption of a National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) review panel which may have the same power as that vested in a federal high court or state high court to determine the likely significant effect of a project.

“It is recommended that other Alternate Dispute Resolution procedures be explored, for example the establishment of an arbitration panel. Hence, the provision under the Act which provides for the appointment of a review panel should b amended to include an arbitration or negotiation panel.”

“The concept of public litigation should also be introduced under the revised EIA Act,” the brief disclosed among other recommendations.

The recommendations were made based on the Environmental Impact Assessment Decree No 86 of 1992, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

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