The Environmental Management Act (EMA)
The EMA provides for a legal and institutional framework for sustainable management of the environment. It also outlines principles for management, impact and risk assessments, prevention and control of pollution, waste management, environmental quality standards, public participation, compliance and enforcement. It goes on to establish a basis for the implementation of international instruments on environment, as well as providing for the implementation of the National Environment Policy, repealing the National Environment Management Act of 1983 and advocating the continued existence of the National Environment Management Council. The EMA provided for the establishment of environmental units in all sectors and ministries as conduits of linkage and collaboration in spearheading rational utilization of environmental and natural resources.
Finally, it provides for establishment of The National Environmental Advisory Committee to oversee other related matters.
EMA establishes the following government bodies with respective powers and responsibilities:
- The Ministry for Environment is established within the Office of the Vice- President, and is responsible for overall co-ordination and policy articulation of environmental management in the country and provision of the central support functions;
- The National Environmental Advisory Committee (NEAC) advises the Minister responsible for environment and other bodies of government;
- The National Environment Management Council (NEMC) is responsible for enforcement of EMA;
- Sector Environment Sections deliver oversight and management of environmental sectors regarding EMA;
- Regional Secretariats are empowered to designate Regional Environmental Management Experts (REMEs);
- The Regional Environmental Management Expert (REME) is responsible for advising and overseeing implementation and enforcement of EMA at the regional level;
- Local Government Authorities (City, Municipal, District, Township) are empowered to designate or appoint Environmental Management Officers;
- Environmental Management Officers are responsible for oversight of implementation of EMA at the local levels;
- Environmental Committees are established at different LGAs levels with responsibility for oversight and implementation of the EMA within their jurisdiction.
The Act gives the Local Government Authorities mandate to ensure environmental compliance in their areas of jurisdiction. Additionally, local authorities are charged with drafting Environmental Action Plans relevant to their geographical areas, in compliance with the National Environmental Action Plan.
The EMA also specifically addresses areas directly or indirectly relevant to climate change. The Act instructs the Minister for Environment (and relevant sector ministries) to take measures to address climate change, with a particular focus on the impacts of climate change and adaptation measures. The Act also manages forests in accordance with the Management of Forest Resources Act of 2002. Furthermore, the Act authorises the Minister and relevant sector Ministries to establish land management guidelines and land planning directives, and allocates responsibility for protection, improvement and nourishment of land to its users and occupiers. Finally, all developers of projects are required to carry out an environmental impact assessment to be reviewed by the National Environment Management Council. Bills, regulations, policies, strategies, programmes and plans that may impact the environment or natural resources are required to conduct and submit a Strategic Environmental Assessment Statement that outlines the likely effects.