By Emmanuella Anokam
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has underscored the need to go beyond global standard prescription to address peculiar gender and environmental issues within Nigeria’s extractive industry.
Mr Olusegun Adekunle, Chairman, National Stakeholders’ Working Group (NEITI Board) made this known at its validation workshop on “Development of Frameworks for Gender and Environmental Impacts Reporting in Extractive Industry” on Tuesday in Abuja.
In a keynote address, Adekunle said that the frameworks were being developed to reflect the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standard.
The chairman recalled that in 2020, Nigeria EITI published the first data on gender participation and environmental practices in the industry.
He said beyond the audits, it had also carried out exploratory studies to understand the specific gender and environmental issues in the sector, and to generate insights about the scope of the impacts.
Armed with the initial outputs of these studies and engagements, he said it was close to defining the parameters for disclosure on gender and the environmental impacts.
According to the chairman, the framework will aggregate the knowledge that it has generated in the last two years.
“We are here as stakeholders, to review the work that has been done so far and to make valuable inputs towards finalising the reporting frameworks for gender and environmental impacts.
“However, we should go beyond what the global standard currently prescribes, to address the peculiar gender and environmental issues that we may be dealing within our nation’s extractive industry,’’ he said.
He recalled that the EITI was founded 20 years ago on the noble principles of equity and sustainable development, adding that these principles remained relevant today if not more than they were in 2002.
“While the EITI was established with the objective of disclosing payments and revenues from extractive resources, the global institution has made significant progress in facilitating openness through the entire processes in the resource extraction value chain.
“In 2019, resource extracting countries committed to disclose data and information on gender and the environment.
“This decision is a recognition of the growing impact that the activities in the extractive industry continue to have on human communities and the natural environment.
“The decision also signposts the urgent need for global and country level action to facilitate gender inclusion and environmental accountability in the extractive sector,’’ he said.
He emphasised the need for data that would help government to design policies to improve the conditions of our target communities and the environment.
Earlier, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, Executive Secretary, NEITI while highlighting the background of the project, said his immediate task on appointment, was to assess the status of Nigeria’s commitments under the new EITI Standard.
“The assessment left me with no doubt that we must deepen the foundation that was already being laid for the implementation of the evolving issues in EITI implementation.
“Two of these policy areas are social and environmental impacts of extractive industry operations,’’ the executive secretary said.
“We believed that this framework will enable us not only meet specific EITI requirements, but will help us to define the scope to reflect all issues of gender and environmental impacts within our local (national) context,’’ he said.
Orji noted his second consideration as the need to mainstream gender and environmental impact reporting within existing government systems and institutions equipped with the mandate and capacity to do so.
“While NEITI is mandated to implement EITI in Nigeria, we do not generate industry data. This is the responsibility of covered entities and relevant institutions. NEITI subsequently collects this data to publish in the annual audit reports.
“While NEITI is reporting industry data through the tradition process of data collection and reconciliation, the long-term goal is to mainstream disclosure practices,’’ he said.
He expressed optimism that the contributions of stakeholders would substantially enrich the framework and lay a solid foundation for effective future reporting of gender and environmental impact of extractive industry activities.
The workshop has in attendance NEITI civil society partners, members of the academic community, researchers and experts.(NAN)