Nigeria is a major importer and consumer of chemicals, which are extensively used in industrial processes, manufacturing, power generation, agriculture and health sectors.
In rising up to the challenge of providing its citizens with a quality environment fit for the well-being of the general population, Nigeria signed and ratified various multilateral environmental agreements related to sound management of chemicals and waste, including the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Minamata and Vienna conventions.
Nigeria also endorsed voluntary global initiatives, such as the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management. The Federal Ministry of Environment, as the national focal point for these multilateral environmental agreements, employs a multi-stakeholder approach in their national implementation.
Nigeria has made compelling progress in the national chemicals management agenda for minimizing the risks of chemicals and waste on human health and the environment through initiatives and programmes in line with its national development plans and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The country developed a national profile to assess its chemicals management infrastructure in 1999 which was updated with a Nano safety chapter in 2012, and a national policy on chemicals management in 2010, while a memorandum of understanding for integrated national programme on sound management of chemicals was endorsed by national stakeholders, and integrated in Nigeria's chemicals management plan. This enables the identification of key priorities, timelines and responsibilities to the implementing stakeholders for the future.
However, these efforts have not eliminated some of the main challenges relating to sound management of chemicals and waste in Nigeria such as inadequate regulatory infrastructure and sustainable financial mechanism; illegal traffic and trade in hazardous chemicals and waste; informal sector involvement in mining and crude oil processing activities; trading in chemicals and hazardous waste processing; and inadequate sensitization of the population. The industrial, petroleum, mining, agricultural and waste management activities are the main sources of concern regarding environmental hazards.
The project "Strengthening of the legal and institutional Infrastructures for sound management of chemicals in Nigeria" under the Chemicals and Waste Management Programme will consolidate the existing national initiatives and arrangements to strengthen national coordination and enhance the sound management of chemicals and waste.
The project under the Chemicals and Waste Management Programme seeks to raise awareness about chemicals and wastes management into the national Sustainable Development Goals agenda. Relevant government stakeholders will receive training, through the development of e-learning courses, and provide other guidance needed.
Because Nigeria has already set up various institutions and mechanisms, the project provides a vast window of opportunity. By the time the project 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.