Mildred Siabi-Mensah, GNA
Sekondi, Jan, 15, GNA - The Friends of the Nation, an Environmentally Minded NGO has urged the EPA to take the lead role in transforming the current National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP)rather than relying on industry players.
"We are of the opinion that the Environmental Protection Agency should take the lead by transforming the NOSCP into a true and comprehensive Oil Spill Prevention and Contingency Plan rather than provide guidance to the oil and gas companies and other agencies for the development of the OSCPs".
Mr Solomon Ampofo, Natural Resource Coordinator at the Friends of the Nation during a session with school children who acted out the gaps in the current plan, said the overall desire was to improve on petroleum sector governance through an informed and an engaged civil society.
Under the current plan, issues such as oil spill Prevention, wild life response, sensitivity mapping, dispersant use policy and border crossing impact of oil spills were not sufficiently handled.
The youth parliament was organised with the support of Oxfam and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).
The current Oil Spill Contingency Plan does not also provide for the establishment of a Citizen’s Advisory Council (CAC) to provide stakeholder engagement and oversight of the offshore industry sector, in particular the development, review and implementation of the Risk Assessments and OSCPs.
The United Nations Environment Programme proposed to the government to facilitate the establishment of Citizen’s Advisory Councils (CACs), to provide non- binding, informed public advice, oversight, and engagement with natural resource development.
The citizen council should be funded either from government revenue or directly by the industry and should provide advice on all aspects of resource industry projects.
The Citizen Council should comprise of all major stakeholder affected by the resource industry that is indigenous people, fishers, farming conservation, tourism, women, youth, science, and local communities.
Mr Ampofo said it should be properly structured to become the eyes, ears and the voice for local citizen regarding large-scale resource development projects that may directly affect them.
The United Nations Environment Programme, further recommended that the national government and industry, with the technical assistance of UNEP and IUCN, host initial scoping meeting between representative of resource industry like oil and gas, mining, forestry, agriculture, fisheries government, and civil society organisations to discuss the Citizen’s Advisory Council concept, and to explore opportunities to establish such council’s in their regions.
He said the EPA was recommended to facilitate the establishment of Citizen’s Advisory Council, which he noted was yet to be established.