18 February 2013

Liberia: Stakeholders Validate Manual On Rio Conventions Project

Stakeholders of the National Steering Committee (NSC) on the Rio Conventions Project have validated a National Manual, with a call for environmental and forest sustainability in Liberia. Amongst other things, the Rio Conventions call for the management and preservation of the ecosystem, forest, and climate change.

The Manual on Piloting Integrated Processes and Approaches to Facilitate National Reporting on the Rio Conventions was validated on Friday, February 15, 2013 at a one-day workshop held at the Corina Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia.

The initiative is a joint effort of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC).

Giving a background of the exercise, the National Project Coordinator, Madam Weade Kobbah-Wureh, stated that the Rio Conventions focus on the issues of climate change, biodiversity and desertification. She said six countries were selected for the project, including Liberia, Afghanistan and Mauritius. She said stakeholders from these countries were selected in order to make "research and test" possible means to report on these international conventions.

Madam Kobbah-Wureh added that they (stakeholders) were chosen to also "see how governments in the selected countries were performing activities of the conventions that were signed by their respective governments."

According to her, the National Steering Committee of the project in Liberia has developed what she called a "National Analysis of Environmental Data" of the country. She named deforestation, mining, concessions, and garbage disposals amongst others as issues that are affecting the Rio conventions in Liberia.

Madam Kobbah-Wureh, who is the Chairman of the University of Liberia (UL) Mass Communication Department, further disclosed that the project is intended to provide and report adequate and appropriate information about Liberia as it relates to the Rio conventions. She said components of the project include an analysis report of existing data and information management in Liberia. She indicated that the National Manual would be sent to "international bodies to serve as a guiding post for world bodies that have subscribed to these conventions."

"The background to the harmonization of approaches and processes to the national reporting of the Rio Conventions which are the conventions of climate change, biodiversity and desertification is that, all of these conventions have to report to international bodies regularly using different formats. What the international bodies are trying to do is to harmonize and bring all of them into one reporting format that you can cut off all of the overlaps and the duplications brought about by these reports," the National Project Coordinator pointed out.

The National Project Coordinator added: "Six pilot countries have been selected for this project; three (3) from least developed countries and three (3) from island states. We were selected to research and test how the whole reporting process to the international conventions would be."

Earlier, the Coordinator of the Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) of the EPA, Mr. Benjamin S. Karmoh, acknowledged the efforts made by stakeholders of the project. He stated that the International Community is concerned about the development of what he called a "national sanity" on biodiversity, climate change and desertification.

For over a year, he pointed out that the NSC has been working very closely with the UNEP to put together a national manual for the three conventions. For his part, the Project Focal person, Mr. Jonathan W. Davies, said the committee worked overtime to ensure that the manual is validated and harmonized. He noted that the document looks at commonality of issues in order to get away from "over lapping and duplication."

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