As the world grapples with the harsh realities of climate change, occasioned by droughts, sea erosions, floods, world leaders converged Monday, May 9 in the Ivorian capital of Abidjan to discuss drought resilience and sustainable land management under the theme: Land, life, legacy: From scarcity to prosperity, where Liberian President George M. Weah called on the international community to address the inherent climate finance imbalance. President Weah used the occasion to lament that Africa, especially Liberia, which has the least greenhouse gas emission, maintains and protects the largest remaining tracts of forest reserves, bears the brunt of the impact of climate change, without accruing much benefits from the solutions and financing for tackling climate change.
Addressing the COP-15 Summit Monday, President Weah noted that, he had stated during the COP26 in Glasgow, there is an inherent imbalance in the current architecture of climate financing.
Acknowledging the immense contributions of various international mechanisms such as the Global Environment Facility, Green Climate Fund, and many others that are working with countries to address the issue of combating drought, reducing or preventing desertification, and restoring lost land, President Weah, however, alarmed that the issue of finance is key to addressing land degradation and ecosystem restoration to avoid drought.
“We who are the richest in terms of forest resources and biodiversity are also the poorest in terms of socio-economic development. We who are the lowest emitters of harmful greenhouse gases, and who bear the brunt of the impact of climate change, benefit the least from the solutions and financing for tackling climate change. And we who maintain and protect the largest remaining tracts of forest reserves, receive the lowest payments for these ecosystem services.
“In an effort to address this imbalance, I proposed at COP26 the establishment of an African Carbon Trade Mechanism for the continent, so that Africa’s economic growth and development can benefit from its forest resources in a manner that is equitable and commensurate with its positive contributions to the fight to reduce global warming. Again, let me reiterate here that Liberia stands ready to host the meetings for the establishment of this Mechanism,” President Weah declared.
Liberia, President Weah informed the delegated, has one of the highest annual rainfalls on the African continent, and is not yet a drought-stricken country. Nevertheless, in preparation for the unknown future, in 2019 the Liberian Government completed and submitted the first National Drought Plan, in fulfillment of the objectives of the UN Convention to Combat Drought and Land Degradation.
“My Government also committed itself during COP26 to ensure that at least thirty (30%) percent of Liberia’s forest will remain untouched, through the establishment of several protected areas. I am now pleased to announce that, through the effort of the Environmental Protection Agency and its Partners, five such protected areas have already been established.
“Additionally, with support from the Liberia Forest Sector Project, funded by the Norwegian Government with technical support from FAO, the Liberian Forestry Development Authority conducted and published the first National Forest Inventory in 2021, which is the first inventory conducted in the last thirty years.
“The African Continent, in particular, awaits concrete, meaningful, and action-oriented decisions from this Conference. The next two weeks will involve intense deliberations and negotiations, but I am confident that Abidjan COP-15 will produce sustainable solutions that will set a new world direction in saving the Earth from further land degradation and desertification, thereby giving hope to the most vulnerable nations and their citizens,” President Weah indicated.
Speaking further, President Weah said problem of climate change is not of Africa’s making, yet Africa continues to experience the worst consequences of it as drought and floods are beginning to occur with increasing frequency on the continent, and in many countries which have never experienced them before.
“This has not only led to the deaths of thousands of our citizens, and the displacement of millions of our people, but has also caused a direct reduction in food security and an increase in cross-border migration of populations. Unless we act urgently and decisively together to deal effectively with this problem, drought and desertification brought about by climate change have the potential to create major insecurity on our continent,” the Liberian leader cautioned.