The UNEP Chief Scientist Office and the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, Nigeria

For decades, oil extraction in the Niger Delta has led to wide-scale contamination of the environment.  However the full extent and intensity of this contamination was never clear to authorities and the public. To address this, the Federal Republic of Nigeria asked UNEP to conduct an independent assessment of the environmental and public health impacts of oil pollution in a particularly strongly affected part of the Delta, called “Ogoniland”.

The assessment was carried out by the Post-conflicts and Disasters Management branch of UNEP and covered the contamination level of land, groundwater, surface water, and sediments. UNEP also looked at impacts on vegetation, air quality, and public health, as well as issues having to do with oil industry practices and local institutions. The assessment involved a desk review of available information about the sites, several field investigations, and laboratory analyses of collected samples.

In order to boost the scientific credibility of the assessment, the Office of the UNEP Chief Scientist was asked to preside over a scientific and technical review of the assessment report. Results of the review were used to improve the quality of the final report.

The full assessment report was released to the public on the 4th of August 2011 and handed over to the Nigerian President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan on the same day.