Report from the AEIAN Affiliate Event
The 3rd annual Charlie Wolf Symposium was held 14 February 2018 at the Federal Ministry of Environment Complex (Brown Building) located in the Central Business District, Abuja, Nigeria. Dr. Ahmed Sanda gave a background of the theme of this years’ symposium (Impact Assessment: A Reflection from Compliance Perspective) and briefly explained the importance of the annual gathering that has been held since 2016 in honor of Charlie Wolf and Charlie’s contributions to the world of impact assessment though IAIA and professional career.
Prof. Bode Gbenle, Chair of the Association of Environmental Impact Assessment of Nigeria (AEIAN) Board of Trustees, gave an overview of the activities of the, noting that it is an Affiliate of the International Association of Impact Assessment (IAIA) and that the association has been the umbrella body of practitioners of environmental impact assessment in Nigeria.
From Left: Dr. Ahmed Sanda, Pro-Tem President AEIAN; Dr. Amos Abu, World Bank Senior Environmental Specialist; Mr. Adesanya Alonge, Director Environmental Assessment Federal Ministry of Environment; and Prof. Bode Gbenle, Chairman Board of Trustees AEIAN
The chairman of the symposium, Dr. Amos Abu, Senior Environmental Specialist (Environment and Natural Resources GEN07) of the World Bank, stressed the need to consistently improve on the quality of Impact Assessment Reports through partnerships, vigilance, and training. He further stressed that climate change, labor, and gender-based issues should be made to compliment the all-important social aspects of impact assessment studies in the country. He also noted that while the World Bank has reviewed its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment guideline, Nigeria is currently reviewing its EIA Act. Dr. Abu drew large cheer when he stated that the World Bank will be willing to partner with Federal Ministry of Environment and consultants on trainings as well as providing other logistical support to same when the need arises.
Dr. Amos Abu of World Bank giving his remarks as the Chair of the Symposium
Mr. John Adesanya Alonge, Director of Environmental Assessment, Federal Ministry of Environment, presented an overview of the EIA Act No. 86 of 1992, which is currently undergoing review by stating the successes and the challenges they had to overcome before getting to the current stage. These experiences and the need to make the document all-inclusive and progressive will ensure that a new ACT consider many issues including the ones raised by Dr. Abu. He also revealed that the department will soon publish 14 sectoral guidelines already developed. He rounded off by discussing the issues of conservation, safeguards, cumulative impact assessment and bureaucracy in relation to ESIA writing.
Prof. Bode Gbenle, the AEIAN Board of Trustees Chairman, giving his remarks
The lead presenter Mr. Abbas Sulieman delivered a lecture on the topic “Journey So far, 30 Years After the Creation of FEPA.” He started with providing a brief biography of Charlie Wolf by speaking of his education, works, passion, travels, and incomparable contribution to the decision-making tool known as Environmental Impact Assessment. Known in some quarters as the father of Social Impact Assessment, Charlie was drafted by UNEP with Professor Robert Thurnbull of Scotland to help Nigeria formulate their EIA Act. He listed many achievements and honors bestowed on Charlie including chieftaincy titles bestowed on him by many communities in Nigeria.
In the second of four segments of his presentation Mr. Suleiman discussed the rise of environmentalism and sustainability by relating the actions of early conservationists, humanists and scholars to the scientific basis to which Impact is understood today. This provided a sound basis to assess the performance of Nigeria in terms of regulating the industrial and manufacturing sectors with a view to achieving sustainable development. He recognized the progressive and self-regulating actions of some sectors particularly the Port operations and the wakefulness of others as well as encouraged the rest to imbibe the same culture.
Fittingly, the speaker ended by providing an assessment of how EIA is viewed and the challenges of thinking it is an all-purpose tool that can fix every problem of humanity. In the same light, he reeled out the opportunities sector by sector as well as traced other challenges of impact assessment generally and locally by elaborately talking about the bureaucracies and politics. After 30 years of impact assessment in Nigeria, he enumerated with some important footnotes the major policy achievements, events, incidences and notable people, and firms that have contributed to the development of impact assessment in Nigeria. This, he capped by providing recommendations on how to improve impacts assessment from a regulators perspective.