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ENVIROMENTAL LAW RESEARCH INTITUTE

B4

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND POLICY

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INTRODUCTION


More than ever before, the debate on Environment has assumed phenomenal importance at the global, national and local levels.  No longer, for instance, is it taken that the natural resources of mother earth are infinite and incapable of being exhausted. Looking back at the earlier part of the twentieth century, we can steadily recall all that have brought about the comprehensive deterioration in the state of our environment.   Top in the list is mankind's wasteful exploitation of natural resources.  We can also talk of extensive pollution of the air, water, and land, the release of contaminants into the environment, extensive distortion and destruction of our food chain, ill-advised intrusions on the ecosystem among several others.Although the geographic distribution of the unfavorable impact of the above highlighted events varies from district to district and country to country, there is a general consensus that they have greatly contributed to a reduction in human life expectancy.  Equally, they have decreased biodiversity and taken their toll on the genetic reserve of economically important wild plant and animal species. ecosystems and the global economy in general.     

Several issues have been identified as the root of the above interrelated threats facing our ~environment.  From Stockholm in 1972 to the Brundtland Report of 1987 and the Earth Summit of 1992 (which resulted in the Rio Declaration), thecommon grounds especially as they affect developing countries are that environmental awareness is low; there is a lack of integrated monitoring and information systems; coupled with limited and inadequately developed municipal administrative systems.  In order to mitigate against these defects, different countries have introduced varying measures.  All these have centered on the establishment of or extensive revision of environmental laws, and the promotion of polices taken can aid effective management of the environment. Since issues on the environment will always remain complex while the responsibilities will continue to be divided, there must always be an over-view of the environmental situation from time to time to enable for the formulation ofappropriate strategies.  This is what the Law Centre of the Faculty of Law Lagos State University in collaboration with Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Limited have sought to achieve with the International Conference on Environmental Law and Policy.  The idea of this book took shape after that conference was held between 19th and 21st March, 1997The contributors of the 25 chapters of this book have identified and explored some, but by no means all, of the salient issues fundamental to achieving permanent sustainable development in the socio-economic and environmental conditions in which we have found ourselves as we transit into the 21st century.  In accordance with the theme of the Conference "Towards a Flexible, Efficient and Effective Environmental Strategy in the 21st Century", each of the contributors have reflected how short-term and medium-term objectives can be made the basis for achieving general long-term strategic objectives.Given the varied background of the contributors, their expertise and exposure,they have approached the issues from different perspectives using substantially different styles.  By and large, however, there is unanimity of conclusion on several points, among which are:(i)    that our generation bears a responsibility to future generations;(ii)   that the state of the environment is a reflection of the state of the economy and vice-versa;(iii)    the need for a parallel shift in focus from consequences to causes;(iv)  the need for active implementation and enforcement of national environmental policy in all areas of the economy and in the service sector;(v)   that polluters have primary responsibility in eliminating environmental damage for which they are responsible notwithstanding the reciprocal nature in the overall scheme of the environment;(vi)  the continuous need for assessment of the effect and impact of disruptions of nature on human health, other living organisms, irreplaceable natural and cultural heritage, non-renewable resources and the possibilities for more rational use of renewable resources;(vii)  an understanding of the socio-cultural set-up of each and every community inthe formulation of solutions to their environmental problems; (viii) the need to pool financial and non-financial resources for regional co-operation; and(ix)   the need to respect life in all its forms and for all natural and cultural values. Taking a cue from Professor Philippe Sands in the book "Greening InternationalLaw", we hasten to add that each contributor is responsible for the content of hisor her contribution.  Similarly, each chapter tells its own tale, and must be considered in the context of the particular social, economic, political and legal contexts inwhich it is situated. The 25 chapters of this book constitute the basis for the environmental Orientation of the society and for national environmental policy in a way that will flexibly and effectively canonize human activities with nature for the preservation of our environment.  The chapters have been divided into six parts, namely, Chapters I,2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 under Environmental Policy Making; Chapters 8, 9, 10, 11 and12 focused on Environmental Litigation; Chapters 13, 14 and 15 centered on Environmental Law andEnforcement; Chapters 16, 17 and 18 examines Environmental Law and Development; Chapters 19, 20, 21 and 22 explores issues relating to Pollution and Environmental Regulation; while Chapters 23, 24 and 25 address Environmental Law and Corporate Activities.The division into parts should not be seen as reflecting the distinct characters of the Chapters.  For instance, Chapter's 22 and 25 both have abearing on International Law and the Marine Environment, yet, they fall under separate parts.  The idea simply is to enable readers draw out principles and conclusions as might be relevant under the different parts.While we acknowledge the fact that the contributors have addressed important issues of environmental concern, it is worth noting that there are several other important issues of environmental concern that have not been touched.  In this regard, we do not claim that this book has brought the curtain down on Environmental Law and Policy. Using the words of the Honorable Dr. Olakunle Orojo C. 0. N; 0.F.R., former Chairman Nigerian Law Reform Commission in his openingremarks at the Conference, we can confidently assert, however, that this book has fulfilled the objective of reflecting Law and Policy as two most potent weapons in the fight against environmental degradation and for environmental sustenance and rehabilitation.All said and done, several organizations and persons were helpful in the organization of the Conference and the eventual publication of this book.  They therefore deserve our heartfelt thanks.  Top on the list is Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (the Conference lead sponsor), and PunchNewspapers Limited for providing funding that helped during the final stages of this publication. The support of the Vice Chancellor of Lagos State University, Professor Fatiu AdemolaAkesode and the entire Lagos State University community particularly the staff ofthe Faculty of Law and Law Centre deserve our special thanks. Our specialist contributors deserve especial mention.  Their enthusiasm and timely response in meeting deadlines are what has made it possible for us to serve this menu, “Environmental Law and Policy."  We are most grateful for the support and active participation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honorable Justice Muhammadu Uwais, C.O.N., the then Director-General of FEPA, Dr. Adegoke Adegoroye and all the other dignitaries (special guests and participants) listed under Appendix II. Your immense and fruitful contribution in the course of the Conference made our editorial work on the Conference papers more interesting. The impute of Professor Neil Gunningham, Director, Australian Centre forEnvironmental Law; Mr. Ladi Williams, S.AN., Professor P. A. Okebukola, Director, Centre for Environment and Science Education; and Professor Jegede, Director, Centre for Research in Distance and Adult Learning Open University, Hong Kong in the course of putting together th.is publication is sincerely acknowledged. Same goes to Chief Maxwell Okudoh, Osa O.A (MS.), Omogboyega John, and the students of the Law Centre.                                             

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