September 16 – The Federal Government of Nigeria is setting in motion new efforts to address long-term oil pollution in Ogoniland, Nigeria. The move by Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to convene a multi-stakeholder workshop on the implementation of the UN Environment Programme’s 2011 assessment of Ogoniland marks an important step towards the large-scale clean-up of the region.
The workshop in Abuja today will discuss the measures needed to implement the recommendations outlined in the 2011 UNEP report entitled, “Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland”. Participants from civil society, Ogoni communities, government, academia and the oil industry will attend the workshop. The day-long meeting will be held under the leadership of the Federal Government of Nigeria, with Mr. Erik Solheim, chairman of the OECD Development Assistance Committee, chairing the sessions.
Mr. Solheim has, since early 2013, served as a UNEP Special Envoy for Ogoniland, conducting and coordinating high-level political talks related to the planned environmental clean-up in Ogoniland. Since the release of the Assessment in 2011, UNEP has expressed its readiness to support restoration efforts and commends the latest efforts by the Federal Government to put the necessary procedures in place for a large-scale clean-up and restoration of the region. The UNEP report, conducted at the request of the Federal Government of Nigeria, was a detailed scientific assessment of environmental contamination in Ogoniland from over 50 years of oil operations in the region. The results from soil, ground water, remote sensing and public health studies showed that pollution was extensive, with widespread contamination of drinking water, land, creeks and vital ecosystems. UNEP welcomes this positive development in Ogoniland after years of pollution. Environmental restoration will require coordinated action from oil companies, community and the government. UNEP remains ready and available to support stakeholders in making Ogoniland a cleaner and safer place for all The 2011 report outlined immediate remedial actions needed as well as a series of recommendations for a large-scale clean-up of the region. Analysis indicated that while contaminated areas could be cleaned up within 5 years, catalyzing a sustainable recovery of Ogoniland could take 25 to 30 years The Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland report is available online at: www.unep.org/nigeria