Publish What You Pay-Nigeria Seeks Integrating Human Rights Into Environmental Impact Assessment

Publish What You Pay is currently working with critical stakeholders for the Integration of Human Rights into Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Post Impact Assessment (PIA) through Policies and laws in Nigeria. Addressing the press on the findings of its commissioned study, “Integrating Human Rights into Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Post Impact Assessment (PIA) Policies in Nigeria”, the group said, as most of the natural resource exploration go on in Nigeria, women and children suffer the adverse consequences the most. The weak governance in mineral exploration, weak regulation and oversight by local, state and federal governments especially with respect to human right abuse, accountability and transparency, fail to recognize the connections between environmental hazards and human right abuse created by natural resource exploration to the deterioration in children’s health, education, social security and development. Natural resource exploration in Nigeria is pushing inhabitants into greater risk of health hazards, famine/malnutrition, child labour, and many other issues that been identified by our study.

The group said it has carried out advocacy visits to partners that are very germane to achieving the objectives of the project, like Ministry of the environment, critical members in Host Communities, State Assemblies, the National Assembly and CSOs. It noted that International Oil Companies (IOCs) and mining concerns are equally important in the process of our engagements.

The group seeks to galvanize support, participation and ownership by the Nigeria public. Achieving these policies and laws will bridge existing gaps for improved environmental protection, and mainstreaming Human Rights Impact Assessment to Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment (ESHIA).

The campaign is hinged on the fact that Social Impact Assessment that is conducted by operators in the extractive industry have not been giving adequate attention to Human Rights Impact Assessment, thus, promoting gross violations of environmental, socio-cultural and economic rights of the people. Our concern is exacerbated by the likelihood of a widespread violation of host/impacted communities/individual’s rights with the increase of solid mineral and gas production as depicted in the Nigeria’s Mining and Metal Sector Investment Promotion Brochure, and draft National Gas Policy and Action that were launched in August 2016 and October 2016 respectively.

The Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in its promotion policy did aver that they have mapped out 44 different types of mineral in more than 500 locations that will be explored in all the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). While the draft national gas policy posited that reserves production ratios of oil to gas were 46 years to 102 years, and affirmed graphically that gas projection demand will increase geometrically till 2021. These positions are encouraged to get the economy out of the current doldrums but also call for a review of assessment framework to curb the challenges that were identified in oil and gas production in Nigeria.

The isolation of Human Rights Impact Assessment from Social Impact Assessment will mean placing Human Rights Impact Assessment at equal status with Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessments, thus, breeding a new assessment framework known as Environmental, Social, Health and Human Rights Impact Assessment (ESHRIA). Rather than conducting ESHRIA to gain regulatory approval, we aligning with the recommendation of International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) that there should be policy adjustment to admit regular ex-ante periodic participatory assessment of ESHRIA in order highlight the iterative nature of the process for continuous improvement in the protection, respect and early response to deviation from standards. The integration of Human Rights Impact Assessment into Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment will make companies to exercise due diligence to become aware of, prevent and address adverse human rights impacts that are associated with their operations in Nigeria as human rights defenders continue to engage them on the basis of periodic outcomes. This window will create a balance between the extractive sector goodies and the rights of citizens especially host communities. This will, in turn, reduce the possible friction areas and work as a peace building mechanism to allow for the free flow and full realization of the benefits derivable from the extractive sector for the enjoyment of citizens rather than their pains.

According to the group, in line with its vision to realize the world where all citizens benefit from their natural resources, today and tomorrow by advocating for an open and accountable extractive sector so that oil, gas and mining revenues improve the lives of women, youth and men in resource-rich communities. It made the following appeals:

Human Rights issues should be integrated into ESHIAs and monitoring, evaluation, reporting, and communication should be done bi-annually in a participatory manner to include Host Communities

Ensure timely identification and prevention of likely human rights breaches, environmental hazards or opportunities, and adequate provision of mitigation measures to avoid any form of injury to health, livelihoods, and relationship for common good.

Strengthen extant laws, policies and framework on extractive sector, and the environment to allow legal enforceability for individuals and communities whose rights are likely to be violated or have been violated. These policies and laws must take cognizance of Environmental Impact Audit (EIA), clean up and compensation as necessary.

PWYP-Nigeria believes that this framework will create a balance between the extractive sector gains and the rights of citizens especially host communities. It will also facilitate the constant reduction of environmental degradation, negatively pea relationship and crisis situation amongst stakeholders. This will usher in workable peace building mechanisms that will enable the full realization of the benefits derivable from the extractive sector for the well-being of the citizens and the nation.

Emeka Ononamadu
National Coordinator