Oil Watch in Nigeria
The Norwegian government is engaged in various developing countries with its Oil for Development (OfD) program. The activities through OfD have so far mainly been bilateral projects on official level. Norges Naturvernforbund sees it as natural to supplement the OfD program with providing the link to existing NGO’s and their local community working groups.
Transparency and civil society participation is of vital importance in the processes for taking real environmental concerns in exploitation of fossil fuel sources. Capacity building, international networks and sufficient financial means are of crucial importance for the functioning of the NGOs, and are the basic reasons for the initiation of this project. Norges Naturvernforbund has so far project activities under OfD in Nigeria.
The environmental organisations in Nigeria are working under extremely tough conditions. The aim of Naturvernforbundets activities in Nigeria is to strengthen local community based organisations, environmental NGOs and the civil society in general, so that they can advocate good and acceptable environmental management devoid of double standards in the areas of oil and gas activities. The project aims to ensure that environmental standards are followed in oil development processes, in Nigeria as well as in other countries.
Nigeria ranks as the world’s 7th largest exporter of petroleum and is strategically placed to a significant role in global oil politics. Extraction of oil in Nigeria has generally meant environmental degradation and human rights abuses, with the Niger Delta as the main problematic area.
ERA has for many years been working to improve the environmental situation around extraction of oil in Nigeria, with the Delta state (commonly referred to as the Niger Delta) as their main focus area. Transparent planning processes, hearing and actual implementation of functioning EIAs local society involvement and participation, monitoring of hotspots, hearing and improvement of environmental legislation, processing and distribution of information to the media are some of ERA’ s working tasks. ERA has a large coverage in Nigerian media.
Oilwatch is an international network uniting South NGOs engaged in extraction of fossil fuel. They monitor activities, ensures environmental and health concerns, transparency and revenues information on oil projects. Oilwatch has been working on these issues for more than 10 years, continuously broadening its activity level and number of involved countries. The international secretariat of Oilwatch is since 2007 hosted by ERA.
The main target group of the project is environmental NGOs and the civic society. We consider these to be important factors that can focus on and bring information on the negative impacts of the oil development, which authorities and companies tend to ignore. These groups can advocate environmental standards, transparency, participation in planning processes, as well as promote and conduct EIA’s and other crucial aspects of oil development. As the oil development goes on in many countries today, it is clear that the forces promoting environmental and human concerns are too weak, and need to be strengthened.