Nigeria ranked top on Environmental Agreements

A Kaduna-based environmental legal consultant, Mr Caleb Mutfwang, has ranked Nigeria high in the implementation of environmental multilateral agreements signed by the country.

Mutfwang in Abuja on Tuesday said that Nigeria had achieved a lot in the process of implementing those agreements.

Nigeria has so far ratified 12 of the 14 international environmental conventions, protocols and treaties.

He said that Nigeria had made appreciable progress in implementing the Basel Convention, Stockholm Convention, Montreal Protocol and Rotterdam Convention, among others.

Basel Convention deals with trans-boundary movement and disposal of toxic and hazardous waste while Stockholm Convention is on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) with Rotterdam Convention talking about promotion of shared responsibilities in relation to the importation of hazardous chemicals.

The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer through the phasing out of the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for the layer ozone depletion.

The consultant said that Nigeria had achieved a lot in the implementation of the Montreal Protocol through the support of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

“ I do know that many factories were given incentives to change their gas filling processes and also UNIDO was able to give them incentives to fully implement that programme.

“You also remember the Federal Government banned the importation of second-hand fridges and air conditioners and people did not understand that they were buying poison.

“All they felt was that the policy was against the poor man but it was actually to save the poor man in the long run, because he was buying something that could kill him.

“ So, I think most of those fridges that brought in poisonous gases, ozone depleting gases have stop coming into the country, but I don’t have the statistics to confirm that but I think a lot of progress has been made,’’ he said.

He said that stakeholders had held series of meetings to come up with strategies to implement the Rotterdam Convention on hazardous chemicals.

Mufwang said that Nigeria hosts a research centre on Basel Convention in Africa located in Ibadan, and aimed at fast-tracking the implementation of the convention in the region.

He said a lot of research had been going on, on how to recycle waste in the centre, noting that a research was ongoing on how to recycle batteries as well.

On Stockholm Convention which deals with chemicals that had been banned, he said, that Nigeria had improved its information system following the implementation of that convention.

“We have been able to upgrade our information profile to that level when we know that at the international level, these chemicals have been banned, so our own officials are also well informed.

“ A cross cutting committee is in place that deals with different agencies of government, so from time to time, they are able to give you a list of chemicals that should not be imported, chemicals that would be imported under certain conditions and so on.

“ So to that extent, I think we are making tremendous progress in implementing most of the multilateral agreements,’’ he said.

The expert, however, urged NGOs to increase their advocacy on environmental challenges problems.

He noted that NGOs had a very critical role to play in the environment sector in the area of creating awareness on the dangers of environmental problems.

“I must give credit to a lot of NGOs that we have in the sector; a lot of them have also been in the forefront trying to access information in the global arena that impact on Nigeria.

“For example, there is an NGO called CropLife — they have been able to do a lot of research into the issues of fertiliser and how it affects plant, environment and health.

“We have a lot of them that are doing very well and they can still do more, if there is a deliberate policy by the government to ensure collaboration with those NGOs,’’ he said.