In 2006, UNEP received a formal request from the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to carry out a comprehensive environmental assessment of oil-impacted sites in the region of Ogoniland, and to recommend suitable remediation actions based on the findings.
The request to UNEP was made as part of a broader government-led peace and reconciliation initiative in the region, and within the Programme Framework for Improving Human Development in the Niger Delta, led by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
At the project’s outset, Ogoni communities, the Rivers State Government and other partners agreed to support UNEP – as an independent international agency – to undertake this significant assessment in Ogoniland.
UNEP’s objectives for its mission to Ogoniland are therefore to:
Conduct field-based assessments to identify the impacts of oil contamination in the Ogoni region on environmental systems – land, soil, water, agriculture, fisheries and air – and the indirect effects on biodiversity and human health;
Use the findings to determine the appropriate levels of remediation needed to rehabilitate contaminated sites to a condition that meets international standards while being mindful of community expectations;
Conduct the environmental assessment in a manner which maximizes benefits to the local communities through employment, capacity-building, information and consultation; and
Publish a detailed environmental assessment report and make it available to the public.
Determining the causes of oil spills is the responsibility of various Nigerian Government agencies and is not part of UNEP’s scientific study.