Liberia: Govt Holds National Conference On the Environment and Climate Change Ahead of Its NDC Submission

Monrovia — A National Conference on the Environment and Climate Change commenced on June 2, 2021 at the Ministerial Complex in Monrovia under the theme, "Ecosystem Restoration - a pathway towards a greener and more sustainable environment for the implementation of Liberia's Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)." The NDC is Liberia's contribution to climate change mitigation and adaption under the Paris Agreement of which Liberia is a signatory. The European Union (EU), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Conservation International (CI) are the lead contributors in this effort.

In his special address and official opening of the conference, President George Manneh Weah called upon all citizens and foreigners in Liberia to work together for a cleaner and more sustainable environment. "Prominent challenges ranging from destruction of our wetlands to perennial flooding, contamination of our water bodies and beaches, and indiscriminate dumping of waste; which is now visible in our cities, towns and villages, are undermining Liberia's effort in attaining Sustainable Development Goals and in particular the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD). In spite of all these challenges, I, George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia, pledge my fullest support and that of my government to the EPA in the faithful fulfillment of its mandate," he said.

In his welcome message, Professor Wilson K. Tarpeh, EPA Executive Director/CEO said, "The EPA cannot do it alone and will therefore count on the cooperation, collaboration and support of all stakeholders."

On Day 1 of the conference, key members of the diplomatic corps were in attendance including the American, British, Chinese and Swedish Ambassadors. The US Ambassador to Liberia, Michael A. McCarthy, said, "President Biden has called the climate crisis the number one issue facing humanity. In an effort to help Liberia save the environment and reduce climate change impacts, the United States government through USAID, has invested more than 45 million dollars in the forest sector."

The United Kingdom in partnership with Italy will be hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (CoP26) in Glasgow from November 1-12, 2021. In his special remarks, the UK Ambassador to Liberia, Neil Bradley, said, "Last year and the last decade were the hottest ever recorded, hence, we need to mobilize funds from developed nations based on their collective commitment, which is to raise 100 billion US dollars per year. The UK's international climate change fund will be contributing 17 billion US dollars to help developing countries, including Liberia, tackle climate change over the next 5 years."

Adding to the pledges of Liberia's international partners, the Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Ingrid Wetterqvist said, "The government of Sweden will invest over 212 million US dollars in climate change related development projects in Liberia over the next 5 years."

Samuel D. Tweah, Minister of Finance and Development Planning; Jeanine Milly Cooper, Minister of Agriculture; Gesler E. Murray, Minister of Mines and Energy; Eugene Nagbe, Commissioner of Maritime Authority and other cabinet members were on hand to grace the occasion.

The first panel discussion was about political will, climate change financing and how the benefits of the forest sector will trickle down to the ordinary people. The panelists included Kumeh Assaf, Key Expert on Mainstreaming Capacity Building for the European Union Long-Term Technical Assistance to EPA Project; Harrison Karnwea, FDA Board Chairman and Samuel T. Tweah Jr., Minister of Finance and Development Planning who is also Chairman of the National Climate Change Steering Committee. During the discussion, Minister Tweah said, "In the last two years, we have pushed in the direction of increasing national budgetary allocation for climate change related activities. But these policies need an actionable framework in order for funds to be allocated on a regular basis." On the issue of low funding allocation for climate change related activities, he said, "I will put all of this on the feet of the civil society actors to advocate and engage the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to make sure these actionable frameworks lead to the allocation of sufficient funds to tackle climate change."

EPA and its partners including the EU, UNDP and CI are making efforts to increase national participation in climate change actions and reinforce the inclusion of other government agencies, the private sector, youth, women, academia, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the validation of Liberia's revised NDC, which will be submitted to the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat in June 2021.

The 3-day event climaxed in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County on Saturday, June 5, 2021 where the EPA and other stakeholders including local students, local partners and diplomatic missions assembled in celebration of World Environment Day.

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