Liberia: EPA, Partners Engage Locals in Fight Against Climate Change, Launch Climate Saturday

Banjor — Residents of Banjor in Virginia Township for the first time on Saturday, January 25 joined staff of Liberia's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Bank Country Office for a day-long awareness about the crippling effects of climate change.

The event was part of a new platform, 'Climate Saturday' organized by the EPA in collaboration with the Liberian Youth Environmental Secretariat, the Youth Climate Change Initiative-Liberia and the West African Youth Network-Liberia support from the World Bank.

According to the EPA Focal Point for Climate Action Empowerment (ACE), Teddy P. Taylor, Climate Saturday is a new platform aimed at promoting a climate smart and sensitive generation to boost the effort in creating awareness on the growing effects of climate change.

Mr. Taylor said Climate Saturday will be a monthly event bringing together community members to discuss issues bordering on climate change and the environment.

He added the event is in line with Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), a term adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which seeks to empower all members of society to engage in climate action, through education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information, and international cooperation on climate related issues.

The event in Banjor, Virginia was sponsored by the World Bank Country Office. Speaking at the occasion, World Bank Liberia Country Manager, Dr. Khwima Nthara said the event will play a significant role in changing the mindsets of the people on the significance of protecting the environment.

"Climate Change poses significant risks to Liberia in reaching its goals for sustainable development and climate action. Strong polices and their implementation will be key to building enabling and transformative institutions necessary to protect the people of Liberia from sea level rise and other climate impacts. In turn, this will help reduce hunger, poverty and boost shared prosperity," he stated.

Giving the impact of climate change on the sustainability of development going forward, Dr. Nthara called for young people to be at the center of discussions on climate change and the environment.

Speaking further, he lauded the EPA for the 'fantastic job' in making sure that every stakeholder is involved in the discussions centered on climate change, and pledged the World Bank's commitment to addressing ACE issues which focus on the six priorities areas.

The implementation of these six priorities areas, he asserted, have been identified as the pivotal factor for everyone to understand and participate in solving the complex challenges presented by climate change.

He further emphasized that the importance of Action for Climate Empowerment is reflected in other international frameworks such the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Global Action Program for Education for Sustainable Development and other instruments which the World Bank is fully supporting.

He lauded the EPA and the organizations for the launch of 'Climate Saturday' which will serve as a unique platforms that will educate, sensitize and create awareness about key climate change issues and its growing effects on Liberia and the world at large.

The World Bank Country Manager also pledged the bank's continuous support to the platform, adding it will create a climate friendly and smart generation through creative dialogues and innovations.

Liberia, like other countries of the world is grappling with the negative impacts of climate change, evidence is the ever-rising ocean tide that is leading to devastating sea erosion.

The venue of the event, along the beach of Hotel Africa in Virginia was a clear testament of how climate change is impacting the environment. Some of the 52 villas that once hosted African leaders attending the 1979 Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU) Summit have been washed away.

Dozens more, including the deserted and dilapidated Hotel Africa will be washed away in the near future if nothing is done.

Participants, predominately residents of Banjor gathered in several groups to discuss ways to help avert the menace.

They called for a concerted effort by government and partners and the inclusion of citizens in the process.

In addition, they highlighted several ways to prevent biodiversity loss in the ocean and along the coastal belt.

Some of the measures they proffered include to stop the disposal of waste, including plastic and other non-biodegradable substances into the ocean, killing of baby fish and the cutting of mangrove trees.

Meanwhile, the next Climate Saturday event, according to the ACE Focal Point, Taylor, is expected to be held in Marshall, Margibi County and will highlight the encroachment of the Marshall wetlands.

The event, he added is a national endeavor and will be held across the country as time goes by.

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