By: Stephen G .Fellajuah
The Government of Liberia through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other partners yesterday, Wednesday, June 2, 2021, began a two day National Conference on the Environment and Climate Change geared towards tackling the many impacts of climate change on national development at the Ministerial Complex, Congo Town, Monrovia.
The importance of the program attracted the presence of President George Manneh Weah and an array of top Government officials, diplomats, UN Agencies, NGOs, civil society groupings, etc.
In his official opening statement at the program, the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Prof. Wilson Tarpeh stated the conference is holding at the time when the world is experiencing enormous environmental and climate challenges ranging from degrading of wetlands, flooding, collusion of water bodies and beaches, indiscriminate dumping of wastes, killing of wildlife and the eruption of water pattern which are the consequences of climate change.
With the contending impact of climate change to the environment, Prof. Tarpeh noted that the challenges are also undermining Liberia’s effort in accomplishing the objective of the Sustainable Development Goal and particularly posing risk to the attainment of the Pro Poor Agenda Prosperity Development (PADP), a flagship development agenda of President George Manneh Weah.
He however expressed confidence that in spite of these challenges, with the support of the partners the EPA will have a positive outcome.
“Cognizant of our mandate at the EPA which is to manage and protect the environment of the country, the EPA under our leadership decided to convene this conference which will provide the opportunity to deliberate on these challenges that are imparting our lives and culture and create one action in addressing them”, EPA Boss highlighted.
He further said one of the agreeable actions that the EPA envisaged to generate from this conference is the endorsement of the sector line ministries responsible for the Implementation of Liberia’s revised climate change action plan which is the National Determined Contribution (NDC).
The Executive Director concluded, saying, since the energizing of the Paris Agreement by the return of the US government to the agreement, this is the first nation holding a conference at the highest level on climate change and environment.
In his remarks at the occasion, the US Ambassador accredited to Liberia, Michael A. McCarthy said in an effort to help Liberia safe the environment and reduce climate change impact, the US government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has invested more than Forty Five million United States dollars in the forest sector.
“It is our hope that the government of Liberia will see this huge investment to support communities through the help of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) to sustain the gains made from USAID Conservation”, Ambassador McCarthy said.
The US envoy furthered that addressing climate change is a priority of the United States Government and collaboration is a key part in the endeavor, saying, the US government remains committed to the project.
Also speaking at the program, Great Britain Ambassador, Neil Bradley, said the world must demonstrate the same urgency in tackling climate change that is showing in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, adding that the decision made now will directly impact the world’s ability to safeguard the environment for future generations.
Ambassador Bradley explained that the UK is playing its part, doubling their International climate finance to £ 11.6 billion over five years. As donor countries, he said they must all keep to their obligations, and deliver on the $100 billion, for, according to him, Without adequate finance, the task ahead is near impossible.
Another diplomat, the Swedish Ambassador, Ingrid Wetterqvist said her government will support building community’s resilience through climate change mitigation and adaptation, conduct environment, climate change and biodiversity scoping study to understand the gap and the embassy’s strategic engagement, sustainable natural resources management as a precondition for an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable development. She assured that the environment will contribute to increase tax income and increase livelihood for the poor population that is dependent on ecosystem services.
The Swedish envoy narrated that the Government of Sweden will also tailor its support towards increase of livelihood Program across coastal communities through adaptation interventions, focus on support to institutional capacity building for environmental management and climate change, renewable energy data, accountability, transparency, participation and integrity which are important human rights principles as well as key governance mechanism.
The conference is expected to come to an end today, Thursday, June 3, 2021.