Environmental experts at the 6th Lagos Public Relations Stakeholders’ Conference organized by Addefort Limited in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Lagos State Chapter have urged the Federal Government through the Ministry of Environment to develop a comprehensive conservative environmental policies to protect endangered species and address waste management and other environmental related challenges in the country.
The Chairman, National Executive Council, Nigerian Conservation Foundation, Chief Ede Dafinone who chaired the annual conference themed: “Conversations to promote environmental sustainability in Nigeria,” said there was a need for the government and stakeholders to work together to develop relevant policies to protect endangered species and the forest in the country.
“It is common knowledge that Nigeria can barely boast of a 7% forest cover, despite her historical affluence of about 40% forest cover in the years preceding the oil boom. The marked decline in forest cover in just a space of about 40 years is enough evidence and proof to stress that Nigeria can become a “forestless” nation.
He added that “The quest for forest rehabilitation is never left for an individual; otherwise it may pass for a jamboree adventure. It requires our collective commitments and continuous negotiations to attain the benefits for a green nation,” he said.
Dafinone called for a well coordinated efforts, led by the Ministry of Environment to address the issue of conservation at the grassroots.
Speaking earlier, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu urged manufacturers operating in Lagos state to use biodegradable or recyclable materials in the packaging of their products.
He said the appeal became important to enhance waste management in the state.
The governor, who was represented by the state’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso urged the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations to play a lead role in government’s advocacy for cleaner Lagos.
He added that citizens must understand that effective waste management starts from individual household, where waste must be properly bagged and sorted to facilitate recycling.
He said, “You will recollect that at the inception of our administration, I signed an executive order with clear instructions to the management of Lagos State Waste Management Authority to implement strategies that will ensure proper and efficient evacuation and disposal of waste across the state. Also, we reactivated the dormant landfill sites, as well as waste transfer loading stations located at strategic areas in the state.
“We will continue to solicit the cooperation of manufacturers in the production or usage of recyclable or biodegradable materials.
“I call on all stakeholders to support strategies and programmes aimed at ensuring environmental sustainability of the ‘Smart City of Lagos’.
“It is a collective responsibility in which the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations has a role to play especially in the area of public sensitisation and advocacy.”
On his part, the Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) Prof. Umar Danbatta called for basic infrastructure and harmonisation of enforceable regulatory framework for e-waste management and control in the country.
In his presentation, entitled: ‘Management of E-Waste for Environmental Sector Sustainability in Nigeria Telecommunications,” Danbatta said there was need for capacity building, institutional framework, coordination of relevant sectors, monitoring and evaluation of e-waste management.
Danbatta, who was represented at the event by Mrs Yetunde Akinloye, Director, Legal and Regulatory Affairs of NCC, said electronic devices were made up of toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium, polluting PVC and hazardous chemicals which could harm human health and the environment.
“The e-waste figure being generated is alarming. In 2016, the world’s population discarded 49 million tons of e-waste. It is estimated that by 2021, that number will grow to more than 60 million tons.
“Amongst equipment that enters the country labelled as “used” and considered functioning, much are ‘near end to life’ equipment which will soon become obsolete or non-functioning and will be added to the growing stream of e-waste,” he said.
The NCC boss, said there were available mechanisms to collect, transport, recycle and dispose e-waste through recycling, which was practiced both formally and informally.
He said companies must adhere to health and safety rules and use pollution-control technologies that reduced the health and environmental hazards of handling e-waste which made formal recycling expensive.
He disclosed that many companies and countries illegally exported e-waste to developing countries, such as Nigeria. The vice chairman recalled that in 2011, at the e-waste summit in Nigeria, it was reported that an estimated 53,600 metric tonnes of e-waste were dumped annually at the Lagos State landfill.
“Such e-waste included, 860,000 computers, 530,000 printers, 900,000 monitors and 480,000 television sets.
“A portion of the e-waste are illegally shipped in contradiction to International Shipment Regulation, Bamako Convention and national laws-Harmful Waste Special Criminal provision Act 2004,” he said.
He said adoption of best practices such as designing better product that were safer, durable, repairable and recyclable would help in the reduction of e-waste.
He disclosed that NCC had developed waste regulation for the telecommunications industry to provide regulatory framework for the management and control of e-waste in the telecoms industry.
He added that NCC would promote reuse, recycle and other forms of recovery to reduce its disposal, reduce green house emission, create green jobs and contribute towards sustainable development.
Speaking on the event, Mr Olabamiji Adeleye, The Convener, Managing Director/CEO, Addefort Limited, explained that the theme of the conference: CONVERSATION TO PROMOTE ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY IN NIGERIA was aimed at engaging stakeholders on one of the biggest challenge confronting our world today.
“At a time that the world is bedeviled with the threat of environmental degradation, climatic change and its attendant consequences across the global, there is the need for concerted efforts to check human activities that are threatening our continuous existence on planet earth.
“Environmental Sustainability was given special focus in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Envision2030, due to its strategic importance to human sustainability. However, much still need to be done by government, Individuals, and corporate organizations to halt the increasing threat to Nigeria’s eco system by looking at better way to manage environmental issues.
The understanding is that Proactive and Strategic Communication is indispensable in this regard, and this has necessitated the need for conversation on how to further promote Environmental Sustainability in Nigeria,” he said.
He urged stakeholders to work together to achieve a Working Strategy for Managing Plastic Waste in Nigeria; Achieve a Manageable Hydrocarbon Emission for Sustainable Ecosystem; Achieve a Working Waste Management Policy in Nigeria; and Achieve Proper Legislation on Environmental Sustainability in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.