Environmental conservation means protecting the environment from pollution and solving any problem that are likely to lead to environmental degradation and deterioration. Protection and management of the environment is one of the major issues facing mankind today. It is the concern of every nation to protect its environment and it also require a collective effort of different national governments to prevent environmental problems like elmineo effect, depletion of the ozone layer and global warming which is an environmental disaster capable of wiping out human race and other living things from the surface of the earth.
There are no frontiers to environmental problems so it is a crucial issue in world politics today because of the production and use of war weapons for territorial defence, chemical warfare, toxic waste imperialism, dirty manufacturing technology, the use of obsolete agricultural method among other things.
Over the years many countries of the world have suffered one human disaster episode or the other that made the United Nation to rise up to the challenge and sponsored a conference on human development in 1972, which was held in Stockholm. This conference resulted into the establishment of the “governing council for environmental programme” called United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
Several debilitating effects witnessed from different countries that called for global awareness and attention are:
1. Torrey canyon disaster oil tanker loaded with 120 tones of oil caused disintegration to the Torrey Canyon in England in 1967.
2. The accidental striking of oil by an off-shore drilling crew in the region of California January 1969. The effect of these caused large oil spillage which affected the aquatic and the marine life. This problem led to the springing up of the Environmental policy organization by United States government. In 1969, an Act called National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was passed and it became effective in January 1, 1970.
3. The ICMESA factory incident (made deadly chemical dioxin travel over few kilometers beyond the factory) in seveso in Italy 1976. This claimed lives of animals and birds and over seven hundred people in that industrial community were evacuated from such environment thereby creating environmental refugee and the clean up of the plat and the neighbourhood caused several million dollars.
4. The Time Bomb love canal episode in Nigeria falls, New York, USA in 1978- drums of buried dangerous chemicals twenty-five years ago, came into the surface of the earth and basement of houses, this led to human poisoning high abortion rates and high birth defects, the residents had to be evacuated and relocated as well as the clean-up of the area affected cost about $60 million.
5. The December 4, 1984 Bhopal disaster in India which claimed the life of 2,500 and over 100,000 people treated for various illness e.g. As a result of their exposure to Union carbide pesticide plant (faulty pump which led to the release of poisonous methyl Sultanate gas into the environment).
6. The 1986 Chernoby1 Nuclear disaster in USSR caused Nuclear radiation to fall out on many national boundaries. This resulted into deadly disease, some died, while others suffered from such ailment like leukemia; Also, agricultural products like livestock and fish (from the affected area) remained Unfit for human consumption.
Apart from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) which became functional in 1980 with its headquarters in Nairobi Kenya, other progress in the area of awareness and policy formation among nations include the workshop on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) at Victoria Harbour, Canada in February 1974.
The conference was co-sponsored by the UNESCO, the Canadian National Committee for SCOPE and UNEP. The workshop attracted participants from all continents with people from diverse discipline and it came up with the publication in SCOPE (1975), Environmental Impact Assessment Principle and procedures edited by R.E Munn.
Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) had sponsored some international conferences on environmental assessment management with the support of Centre for Environmental Management and Planning (CEMP) established in 1972. In Aberden, with participants drawn from both developed nation and third world countries. Many countries have adopted the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process in decision making with minor variations based on national political and institutional frame work.
At the national level, the awareness has led the federal government of Nigeria to establish the Federal Environmental Protection (FEPA) in 1988. The duty is basically to protect and develop the Nigerian environment, formulate policy with regard to environmental research and technology. The responsibilities of FEPA were translated into policy in 1989. i.e. The National Policy on Environment. The interim guidelines and standards of environmental management and control was given in 1991.
In addition to this, the assessment agency for proper enforcement of the various policy provision was strengthen by a decree, 1992 Environmental Impact Assessment Decree No. 86. Before FEPA was scraped by the Obasanjo administration in July 1999 a FEPA/World Bank State Environmental Action Plans (SEAP) has also shown interest in industrial pollution as a major environmental problem especially in industrial Urban Centres. Also, before the scraping of FEPA there were state branches to be called SEPA, whose role is to be noticed at the state level, with FEPA Decree 58 of 1988 playing a complementary role.
Other bodies responsible for protecting the entire Nigerian Environment include the Urban and regional planning division (Federal Ministry of Works and Housing) with Decree 88, Section 33 of 1992 as well as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are all machineries to help conserve and develop our environment.
In addition section 20 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria expressly provided that, the state shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and Land, forest and wildlife of Nigeria. This was why the Nigerian government quickly called on the Italian government to remove the toxic waste dumped in KOKO village in Edo State by an Italia company, which caused chemical contamination and destruction of valuable properties and the Italian government apologized for that international misconduct.