Monrovia – President George M. Weah has directly requested the United States Government and the rest of the developed world to form a sustained partnership with Liberia to combat climate change and spur economic growth.
In his address to the 76th regular session of the United Nations General Assembly virtually in New York, President Weah said Liberia is committed to collaborating with the developed world to keep its forest intact for the benefit of all.
“… Liberia needs meaningful partnerships on this journey of sustainable development; partnerships with the United States, as well as with the rest of the developed world, including the private sector, to allow us to leave our forests intact because of their extraordinary capacity to capture carbon for the benefit of the industrial world,” President Weah pleaded.
He continued: “For far too long, we state actors, including those on my own continent who have faced the harshest extremes of weather and climate, have been guilty of window-dressing climate issues with rhetoric and passive declarations. Liberia humbly submits to this august body that now is the time for concerted and decisive action. Liberia, for its part, reaffirms our commitment to continue our good stewardship of our critical ecosystem of tropical rainforest, coastal mangroves and interior peatlands.”
Liberia is endowed with nearly 7 million hectares of forest, representing nearly half of the Upper Guinea forest in the west Africa region; data from the recently completed National Forest Inventory shows.
It is the last remaining untouched tracts of forested land in this region and contain some of the highest above-ground carbon stocks of any forest in the world, even higher than the carbon stocks in the great Amazonian Forest. But it is being threatened by large concessions and substance farming. As one of the last reserves of such high carbon stocks, President it is imperative that Liberia’s forests are maintained in the future.
The President, dedicating most of his speech on Liberia’s pivotal role in the global fight against climate change, said many of the highest carbon stock forests in Liberia contain essential natural capital and ecosystem service benefits; something he said have so far eluded Liberia as a developing nation.
Speaking further, he said Liberia has a youthful population and faces enormous pressures for rapid development that provides decent jobs and livelihoods, especially in our productive sectors of agriculture and mining, but balancing the need for development and mitigating climate change was imperative.
“Our economy needs to develop, and we want to do so sustainably. We want to continue to maintain our forest and ecosystem endowments, and our incredible bio-diversity, as we embrace climate-smart approaches to agriculture and mining, which are our economic mainstays,” he said.
However, in order to do so, he noted that Liberia needs meaningful partnerships, especially with the United States and other rich nations and the private sector it its drive to sustainable development. This, he said when done, will lead to a win-win situation, as Liberia’s forests will remain intact because of their extraordinary capacity to capture carbon for the benefit of the industrial world.
“We are therefore looking forward to constructive engagements with all interested parties in this regard,” he said.
Speaking on the prospects of the impending United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) that will be hosted by the United Kingdom in the coming weeks, the President said it will provide yet another opportunity to generate more ambitious climate actions and commitments.
He then welcomed the United States’ recent re-entry into the Paris Accord, noting that the decision manifests and demonstrates the critical leadership needed to mobilize global coordinated action.
He also said while U.S. President Joe Biden’s nationwide address to the American People on the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida was significant, there was a need for an immediate and urgent action to combat and reverse global warming trends.
“For far too long, we state actors, including those on my own continent who have faced the harshest extremes of weather and climate, have been guilty of window-dressing climate issues with rhetoric and passive declarations. Liberia humbly submits to this august body that now is the time for concerted and decisive action.”
Rallying Against COVID-19
The 76th regular session of the United Nations General Assembly is currently taking place in New York under the theme: “Building resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalize the United Nations”
Due to COVID-19, most world leaders, like the President, are not attending in person. Speaking on the deadly pandemic, President Weah, on behalf of the Government and people of Liberia, extended deep ‘appreciation’ to all the country’s bilateral, multilateral, development, regional, sub-regional, national and local partners for their support in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and the assistance they continue to provide in the nations’ quest towards recovery.
In response to the pandemic, he said his Government, in line with our National Development Plan; “The Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development” (PADP), has developed a Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
According to him, the Plan is aimed at reducing the impact of the pandemic by providing the basis for economic recovery through short term actions, and investments in key sectors, including agriculture and tourism.
Under the Economic Recovery Plan, he noted that the Liberian economy is already beginning to show signs of resurgence, and in spite of the negative impact of the coronavirus, projections for GDP growth is now positive, and is expected to reach four percent in the coming year.
“Through the implementation of difficult macroeconomic reforms, my Government has been able to obtain a substantial increase in domestic revenue generation for the first time in more than a decade, and we are committed to broader economic and investment climate reforms,” he said.