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FG set to develop national chemicals framework by 2022

Federal government is expected to develop a “comprehensive national legal framework” for managing chemicals and waste by 2022, according to a top environment ministry official.

The framework will align existing legislation and will come after a legal assessment of the country’s chemicals and waste-related policies and laws, Olubunmi Olusanya, deputy director of the environmental health and pollution control department in Nigeria’s federal environment ministry, told Chemical Watch.

When asked whether the framework could involve new legislation or an inventory of all chemicals in the country, Mr Olusanya said: “The scope and structure of the legal framework will be determined by stakeholders based on the outcome of the review of existing regulations.”

It will be implemented as part of a UN environment programme (Unep) project, aimed at strengthening the legal and institutional infrastructure for managing chemicals in Nigeria.

“Nigeria is a major importer and consumer of chemicals, which are extensively used in industrial processes, manufacturing, power generation, agriculture and health sectors,” Unep said in a release about the project.

Currently the country has several sectoral regulations that deal with chemicals management issues and present “jurisdictional overlaps”, but lacks national legislation that is “clear, simple and enforceable”, Mr Olusanya said.

It also lacks sustainable funding to follow up on chemicals management issues and the infrastructure for regulation. The marketing and selling of chemicals by “unqualified persons and non-professionals” is also a problem.

The project, which will last three years, hopes to address these challenges. In addition to developing the national framework, it plans to:
develop and implement a national strategy for building capacity on chemicals and waste;
establish a national environmental monitoring network to collect data;
develop a national accreditation course for chemical dealers;
review and update Nigeria’s National Committee on Chemicals Management, a coordinating body on chemicals that is co-chaired by the environment and health ministries “mainstream” chemicals and waste issues into other national processes; and conduct a pilot study to test the feasibility of different national cost-recovery measures.
Previous efforts
Nigeria’s economy – valued at $397bn last year – is the largest in Africa and the country is one of the world’s biggest oil exporters.

It developed a national policy on chemicals management in 2010, and had stakeholders endorse a memorandum of understanding in favour of an integrated national programme on the sound management of chemicals.

It is also a party to the UN’s Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions on hazardous chemicals and waste, and implemented another Unep project from 2014-18 that focused on strengthening national chemicals management.

However, “these efforts have not eliminated some of the main challenges relating to sound management of chemicals and waste in Nigeria,” Unep said, adding that activities in the industrial, petroleum, mining, agricultural and waste management industries are “the main sources of concern regarding environmental hazards”.

Unep said of the new project: “By the time [it] is completed in 2022, it is expected that the country will have established a more coherent strategy for the sound management of chemicals and waste, in line with the sustainable development goals and its national development plans.”

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