Nigeria is committed to a national environmental policy that will ensure sustainable development based on proper management of the environment. This demands positive and realistic planning that balances human needs against the carrying capacity of the environment. This requires that a number of complementary policies, strategies and management approaches are put in place which should ensure, among others, that:
environmental concerns are integrated into major economic decision- making process;
environmental remediation costs are built into major development projects; economic instruments are employed in the management of natural resources; environmentally friendly technologies are applied;
Environmental Impact Assessment is mandatorily carried out before any major development project is embarked on.
This policy, in order to succeed must be built on the following sustainable development principles:
The precautionary principle which holds that where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, the lack of full scientific knowledge shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective means to prevent environmental degradation; *
Pollution Prevention Pays Principle (3p+) which encourages Industry to invest positively to prevent pollution;
The polluter pays principle (PPP) which suggests that the polluter should bear the cost of preventing and controlling pollution;
The user pays principle (UPP), in which the cost of a resource to a user must include all the environmental costs associated with its extraction, transformation and use (including the costs of alternative or future uses forgone);
The principle of intergenerational equity which requires that the needs of the present generation are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs;
The principle of intra-generational equity which requires that different groups of people within the country and within the present generation have the right to benefit equally from the exploitation of resources and that they have an equal right to a clean and healthy environment; and
The subsidiary principle which requires that decisions should as much as possible be made by communities affected or on their behalf by the authorities closest to them. This new policy thrust is based on fundamental re-thinking and a clearer appreciation of the interdependent linkages among development processes, environmental factors as well as human and natural resources. Since development remains a national priority, it is recognized that the actions designed to increase the productivity of the society and meet the essential needs of the populace must be reconciled with environmental issues that had hitherto been neglected or not given sufficient attention.
In enunciating a national policy on the environment, cognisance must be taken of the various institutional settings and professional groupings, as well as the complex historical, social, cultural and legal considerations which have been and continue to be involved, in the identification and implementation of measures designed to solve national environmental problems. The provisions of the Policy have thus been informed by recent national policy initiatives in Science and Technology, Agriculture, Health, Industry, Oil and Gas, Population, Culture, etc., as well as major international efforts in the field of environment. The Policy aims to provide a rational, practicable, coherent and comprehensive approach to the pursuit of economic and social development in a way that minimizes contradictions and duplications, while enhancing inter and intrasectoral co-operation and effectiveness at all levels. Since the health and welfare of all Nigerians depend on making the transition to sustainable development as rapid as possible, this National Policy on the Environment provides the concepts and strategies which will lead to the...
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