EPA, UNDP Hold Regional Stakeholders Awareness Workshop on The Rio Conventions

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Ganta, Nimba County – Recent deluge leading to disastrous flood in various parts of Liberia has raised eyebrow on the little attention being paid to effects of climate change and environmental degradation in the country.


Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]


Liberia, a signatory to the Rio Convention, has not succeeded much in implementing these conventions which could avert some of these natural disasters caused by degrading the environment.

But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) through the Cross-Cutting Capacity Development project (CCD) is striving to capacitate stakeholders at community level across the country to strengthen and institutionalize commitments under the Rio Conventions.

The three Rio Conventions—on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification—derive directly from the 1992 Earth Summit. Each instrument represents a way of contributing to the sustainable development goals of Agenda 21. The three conventions are intrinsically linked, operating in the same ecosystems and addressing interdependent issues.

At a two-day workshop in Ganta, Nimba County, the EPA brought together regional stakeholders like farmer corporations and environmental groups to broaden their understanding on their knowledge on how come environmental and biodiversity conservation.

According to the Deputy Executive Director of the EPA, Randall M. Dobayou, the CCD project is intended for Liberia to make better decisions to meet and sustain global environmental obligations. However, he said, such would require “Liberia to have the capacity to coordinate efforts, as well as best practices for integrating global environmental priorities into planning, decision-making and reporting processes. To this end, the objective of the project is to strengthen a targeted set of national capacities to deliver and sustain global environmental outcomes within the framework of sustainable development priorities.”

The EPA believes that the capacity building project would help Liberia achieve global environmental benefits at a lower transactional cost as well as being able to respond faster and more appropriately to conservational needs.

Climate Change & Sustainable Development

The training focused on Climate Change and Sustainable Development presented by Sampson Chea on behalf of Ben Karmoh.

His presentation wrapped around climate change profile, climate change reports and challenges.

This presentation wrapped around the historical definition/background of Sustainable Development; The Rio process; Biodiversity Convention; Biodiversity Management National context; First Generation of NBPSA and Second Generation of NBSAP process.

Chea noted that environmental sustainability has remained at the heart of the sustainable development movement. “It is the process of making sure current processes of interaction with the environment are pursued with the idea of keeping the environments naturally possible,” he said.

He said, by 2019, at least 60 per cent of Liberians have been targeted to be aware of the meaning and importance of biodiversity and its sustainable utilization.

To achieve this, he cited the need to conduct national survey to gauge knowledge gaps about biodiversity and conduct public education and awareness campaigns.

He also mentioned the need to organize a series of national workshops to

define/describe biodiversity and explore its importance in detail and develop and introduce a biodiversity training module for Liberian schools, colleges and for training in rural communities, amongst others.

According to him, in 2008, Liberia completed its National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA).

The NAPA is intended to address urgent and immediate adaptation actions for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to build their resilience to the impacts of climate change. At the end of the NAPA Process, three urgent and immediate adaptations were identified: Integrated Cropping and Livestock Farming; Coastal Defense and Climate Smart Agriculture.

Under the Least Developed Countries Fund, the EPA mobilized funding for the execution of the projects to help strength the resilience of the country against the impacts of climate change.

He said the EPA is challenged when it comes to coordination, availability of data, data gap, few national experts and inadequate budgetary support.

“Liberia is striving to fulfill its reporting obligations under the United Nations Climate Change Regulatory Frameworks. The challenges are enormous. There’s the need for technical and financial support to help Liberia fulfill

its reporting obligation under the UNFCCC process,” he said.

Desertification

Liberia is gradually losing its soil fertility and experiencing changes in rainfall pattern, leading to poor yield, according Berexford S. Jallah, the Coordinator of Geo-Information Services at the EPA and National Focal Point at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

He threw light on the global, regional, sub-regional and national impact of desertification.

According to him, the rise in the sea level and extreme coastal flooding events are also impacts Liberia is facing as a result of desertification.

Jallah admonished participants of the workshop to use the knowledge they acquire on environmental degradation to be ambassadors in their respective organizations and communities.

He lamented that most of the mangrove in Monrovia are now non-existent as people are converting wetlands to residences.

Women’s Involvement

In a presentation done by Salome G. Gofan, Executive Director, RICCE, participants were lectured on the Gender Perspectives on the Conventions of Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification.

Ms. Gofan noted gender equality would help bridge the gap to sustainable development, noting that women and men have different roles and responsibilities in managing natural resources.

According to her, unequal access to and control over natural resources and unequal distribution of natural resources and lack of involvement of women in decision making hiders development goals.

She noted that gender equality and women’s empowerment are matters of fundamental human rights, social justice.

“A pre-condition for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – ‘the

achievement of SDGs goals are contingent on the achievement of gender

Equality and the Empowerment’,” she said.

She spoke of the need to recognize and credit the key role of women in environmental sustainability, stating that women should not only be seen as vulnerable group but also change makers.

Ms. Gofan spoke of the need to improve the data collection on women’s and men’s opportunities to be involved in decision-making.

Land Use & Sustainability

Mr. John Forkpa Kannah elaborated on how the misuse of land results to its degradation, desertification and drought that have an adverse impact on the sustainable development.

He said, Liberia’s most essential biodiversity is in the northwest and southeast, however, only 6 percent of Liberia’s closed-canopy forests are within designated protected area forested areas in Lofa and Nimba Counties have high carbon stocks as well as high vulnerability to future deforestation. He added that over 60% of the forested landscapes degraded in Liberia.

The workshop was characterized by series of group work wherein participants shared knowledge on how they can contribute to environmental conservation and sustainable land use.

At the end of the project, UNDP Project Manager thanked the participants for leaving their duties in their respective counties to participate in the training workshop.

He underscored the need for every participant to be ambassadors of environment conservation and foster the implementation of the Rio Conventions.

He admonished women not to relent their roles in helping sustain the environment, while at the same time urging men to always consider the involvement of women in decision-making, especially on the use of natural resources.

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