In line with the Federal Ministry of Environment drive to increase youth participation in environmental policies and management, the Honourable Minister of State for Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, hosted a group of young environmentalist in Nigeria to discuss issues pertinent to young people in the environmental sector.

The delegation of young professionals was led by Adesua Obasuyi; the Executive Director of Sustainable African Cities and Communities Initiative and included ten (10) other young environmentalists. In her opening remarks, Ms Adesua highlighted the objectives of the meeting which she said were to discuss the National Policy on Solid Waste Management which was validated in 2017 and is yet to be approved by the Federal Executive Council. Also, she stated that the meeting amongst other things was to discuss youth participation in policy formulation and implementation in the Ministry.

The Honourable Minister, in her welcome address, stated that she is impressed with the work the delegation is doing particularly in the area of advocacy on environmental issues and assured the delegation that the Federal Ministry of Environment will work with youth to strengthen advocacy on environmental matters and promote projects that have positive impacts on the most vulnerable groups in the country. With regard to the  National Policy on Solid Waste Management, the Honourable Minister said she is aware that the Policy document is awaiting approval from the Federal Executive Council (FEC). She assured the delegation that the FEC memo would be ready before the end of December 2019. She also informed her guests that there will be an amendment of Extended Users Responsibility section of the policy.

Among the delegation, Oladosu Adenike; Ambassador of Fridays For Future Nigeria, Ibrahim Joseph; Programme Manager Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation, Prisca Offiong; Programme Officer Climate Change Network of Nigeria and Idehai Rita of Eco Barter, enquired about the state of the climate change bill, the status of coal mining license issuance, how the ministry will support innovative ideas by young people and how the ministry will incorporate the informal sector in waste management policy respectively.

In response to the state of the climate change bill and how innovative ideas will be supported, Mrs Ikeazor stated that the Ministry is working with the Department of Climate Change (DCC) to host a National Climate Change Incubation Hub, as a build-up on the regional hubs organised by DCC and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Also, she noted that due diligence is done in respect to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before coal mining licenses are issued. Furthermore, she said, the Ministry is working to empower the informal workers in the waste management sector to improve their efficiency in waste collection.

In conclusion, the Honourable Minister assured the delegation of its continuous support and engagement in terms of capacity building and collaboration. She stated that the Ministry is the custodian of laws, while the youth are the drivers and implementers of the laws.

Author: Ibrahim Joseph.