Legal Nigeria

Lagos urges stakeholders to embrace EIA for sustainable development


L-R; Rep. of the Hon. Commissioner for The Environment and Water Resources and Director Sanitation Services Department, Dr. Hassan Sanuth; Guest Lecturer, Prof. Babajide Alo and Director Environment Assessment Department, Dr. Olasunkanmi Sojinu, during a Stakeholders Workshop on Mainstreaming Enviromental Impact Assessment and other safeguard instruments into developmental Initiatives in Lagos State, held over the weekend at the Lagos State Chambers of Commerce and Industry, LCCI building, Nurudeen Olowopopo drive, Ikeja Lagos.

The Lagos State Government at the weekend urged stakeholders to embrace Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a critical tool for environmental management.

Addressing a stakeholder’s engagement on mainstreaming Environmental Impact Assessment and safeguard instruments into developmental initiatives at Alausa, State Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab said the move was necessary to achieve sustainable development

Wahab who was represented by the Director Sanitation Services Dr. Hassan Sanuth said EIA helps in identifying the likely adverse and beneficial impacts of a project with the aim of putting in place measures to mitigate the adverse ones.

“For us, regulating development in the built environment is not a contest of popularity but a determination to do the right thing. EIA has become a global decision-making tool by policy makers in protecting the Environment.

“Nations across the globe enacting laws and setting stricter standards to ensure compliance and Lagos State cannot be an exception,” he said.

He said Lagos remains the preferred destination for many businesses operating within the various sectors of Nigeria’s economy and this opens the State to economic prosperity and growth adding that it comes with various types of environmental and social challenges.

Wahab explained that the establishment of industrial facilities, creation of new settlements, construction of building and infrastructure, all come with huge adverse environmental impacts ranging from pollution of environmental media (Air, Land and Water) to irreversible environmental degradation if not properly managed.

He said the workshop was designed to bring together Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) and relevant stakeholders in the built and environment sector to brainstorm on the critical role of EIA and other safeguard instrument in a collective strides towards sustainable development in Lagos State.

The commissioner stressed that the workshop has became necessary in view of the recent circular from the Head of the state public Service which re-enforces the need for all MDAs and project developers in the state to subject their projects to EIA through the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.

According to him, it is for these obvious reasons that the State through the Environment Ministry has adopted the application of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process in ensuring sustainable implementation of development projects in the State in line with global best practices.

He said the Government cannot afford the huge cost of addressing environmental degradation and ecological challenges resulting from unwholesome project development activities, adding that the cost of doing the right things is cheaper than the cost of correcting the consequences of refusal to do them.

Wahab added that this was the reason the Ministry is committed to creating awareness on the need for participation and compliance with the EIA process in the State and developed the Citizens Guide on EIA to educate the public and provide them with required information on EIA process in the State.

He stated that as part of the efforts to strengthen the participation of people in EIA, government had conducted Stakeholders Engagement meetings to several Local Government Areas in the State in the last two years where the EIA Report of some developmental projects were discussed for the understanding of the local people.

The commissioner added that the Ministry had produced audio-visual documentaries in Yoruba and Pidgin English as part of awareness/sensitization efforts and the Stakeholder’s Engagement workshop was also another awareness creation effort.

He said the government is determined to take all necessary steps to protect the already fragile ecosystem of the state including a holistic enforcement of the State Environmental Laws and regulations.

He reiterated that the government through the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources is ready to work together with all relevant MDAs and stakeholders the quest of achieving the objectives of the pillar “H” of this administrations “Themes-plus” agenda.

Wahab said protecting the environment is a collective responsibility, as the government strive to improve the welfare of Lagosians through implementation of the laudable projects added that residents must ensure they are not creating new problems as the government is try to solve existing ones.

The Permanent Secretary Office of Environmental Services, Dr. Gaji Omobolaji Tajudeen in his welcome address said EIA has become a major management tool that any nation that is determined to achieve sustainable development cannot afford to be jettisoned in project consideration and design.

Gaji represented by the Director Environmental Assessment Dr Olasunkanmi Sojinu said MDAs and other stakeholders are the corner stones for the realization of the objectives of the Agenda as they implement various projects that are expected to impact positively on the lives of the people.

He said such projects include Road Infrastructure, development of residential estates, Drainage Channels, Rail Lines, Hospitals, Schools amongst others added that while these projects come as cheering news, they also bring along with them environmental impacts ranging from pollution of Air, Water and Land, destruction of the already fragile ecosystem, loss of biodiversity and sometimes loss of livelihoods.

He stressed that all these impacts must be identified, quantified and mitigated through the Environmental Impact Assessment process.

In his presentation, a University don, Prof Babajide Alo emphasized that EIA is extremely important and is the first process before engaging in any construction project.

He stated that EIA promotes environmentally sound and suitable development by identifying appropriate alternatives and mitigating measures.

Present at the Workshop were Government officials, Property Developers, and individuals in the built sector

Source; PM