Liberia: University of Liberia to Commence Environmental Studies Soon

Monrovia — In preparation for the commencement of University of Liberia (UL)'s graduate program in environmental studies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Liberia in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) concluded a four-day technical workshop to develop a curriculum for Master's in Environmental Studies for the tertiary institution.

The technical training which ran from 18-21 October 2018 in Gbarnga, Bong County attracted 30 participants including UL President and Vice President of Graduate studies, heads of curriculum development and various departments at UL, as well as representatives of the EPA and partners of regional programs were tasked on developing a draft curriculum, reviewing and producing a final draft, which is expected to be submitted for further review and validation by relevant authorities of UL.

In opening remarks, Mr. E. Abraham Timbey, Project Coordinator explained that UNDP through the National Adaptation Plan (NAPs) is providing funding to UL to setup the ground work for the establishment of the Master's in Environmental Studies including Climate Change at the school with the aim of training professionals amidst climate change and other environmental threats.

According to him, Liberia is endowed with rich forest and biodiversity as well as other natural resources that are of conservation significance.

He added that the country holds deposits of mineral and other resources whose development have been a subject of environmental concerns lately and disclosed that the forest and resources of the country have become increasingly susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change.

"The main contributing factors include shifting cultivation, unsustainable logging practices, unregulated coastal mining, high levels of biomass consumption (charcoal and fire wood) and decreasing river flows due to high evaporation," Mr. Tumbey noted.

Based on the current and future threats of climate change to national development, the Deputy Executive Director, Hon. Randall M. Dobayou disclosed that the Government of Liberia has been undertaking initiatives aimed at addressing the impacts of climate change.

Speaking further, he mentioned that in 2008, Liberia developed its National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) with a focus on the urgent and immediate adaptation priorities of the country.

Hon. Dobayou noted that the vulnerability assessment report revealed that climate variability and extreme climatic events were significantly impacting sustainable development priorities and indicated that "at the policy level, the NAPA called for capacity building to integrate climate change in development planning; raising awareness by dissemination climate change and adaptation information, particularly to vulnerable communities; and mainstreaming adaptation to climate change into policies through programs in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy, health, gender and meteorology/hydrology".

He indicated that at the heart of many of the greatest challenges facing Liberia in its effort to combat climate change is the lack of trained expertise and the absence of local training institutions to prepare professional who can engage in environmental sustainability and climate change enabling activities across the critical sectors that are most vulnerable to climate change.

Madam Ophelia Weeks, President of the University of Liberia thanked the technical committee members for stepping up, putting in time and effort in ensuring the draft curriculums at hand considering challenges in getting professionals from the UL, EPA and UNDP in one place for four day.

She mentioned that the NAP could have develop without the university but is glad that the NAP identified the University of Liberia as the research and education arm of the plan in providing the education and knowledge research as means of increasing human capacity that will implement the plan. "This is in the interest of our country that we all want to see shine and will ensure that this institution is the best in producing people that will be needed to continue, in making Liberia to rise and stay on top" she said.

Madam Weeks again thanked EPA and UNDP as partners for their contributions to proving necessary support which she termed as "responding to the need people that are to be skilled".

The Technical team is working tirelessly in ensuring he that curriculum is fully completed, launched to the public and gets in full swing for the beginning of the next academic semester or year.

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