The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, says hazard caused by inappropriate handling and use of chemicals have never been worse than now.
Abubakar made this known at the Inception Workshop for the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) Special Programme Project on Strengthening of the Legal and Institutional Infrastructure for Sound Management of Chemicals in Nigeria on Thursday, October 17 in Abuja.
The minister said that the impact of inappropriate handling of chemicals, especially on children had never been deadlier.
The ministry recently inaugurated Project Steering Committee (PSC) for the implementation of UNEP Special Programme Project.
The project is to strengthen legal and institutional infrastructure for sound management of chemicals in Nigeria.
The project steering committee comprised technocrats, professionals and NGOs, and the committee will be chaired by Mr Charles Ikeah, the Director, Pollution Control and Environmental Health Department, Ministry of Environment.
The project requires a number of experts and international organisations to support its implementation, and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is supporting Nigeria in the implementation.
UNITAR will be responsible for conducting training of trainers, supporting the strengthening of the national chemicals and wastes governance structure, developing a platform for e-learning courses among others.
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According to the minister, sound management of chemicals is a tool to save lives and is part of the solution to achieve sustainable development in Nigeria.
“We need to work more beyond our sectorial mandates to achieve the objective of sound management of chemicals in our country.
“We need to develop long term plans that will shift Nigeria to greener economies, sustainable chemistry, circular economies and cleaner development plans.
“We must de-couple, de-carbonise and de-toxify our economies to improve the quality of lives,’’ he said.
He said that the ministry would network with other sectors to explain the positive effects that sound chemical management had for all sectors of Nigeria’s economy and overall economic growth.
Abubakar said that the successful implementation of the project would strengthen and sustain an integrated approach for the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle in Nigeria.
Mrs Ibukun Odusote, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry said the project was to address the current challenges and constraints in the national chemicals management regime.
Odusote said presently at the global level, discussions on possible elements for a post -2020 platform for international cooperation on the sound management of chemicals and waste were ongoing.
He said the discussion was for consideration and adoption by the fifth meeting on chemical management in Germany.
Mr Nelson Manda, the Senior Specialist, Chemical and Waste Management Programme of UNITAR said that the implementation of the programme was a welcome development, adding that UNITAR would give adequate support to the programme.
Manda said that chemical and waste management were associated with risks but they could also be recycled to create wealth and job opportunities.
Mr Yomi Banjo, the Environmental Expert, UNIDO said that UNIDO would continue to work with the ministry to achieve success in its projects.
Banjo said that UNIDO would support Nigeria to ensure it industrialised the economy in a responsible manner.