EPA, UNDP Organize Private Sector Engagement on Addressing the Effects of Climate Change in Liberia

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Buchanan, Grand Bassa County – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), on Thursday, October 1, 2020 continued its engagement with the private sector through a two-day private sector engagement on Climate Change Adaptation (CCA), financing, and available financial instruments to de-risk their investments.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals; the Paris Agreement building upon the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) among other agreements  all recognize and call for a strengthened relationship with the private sector, including the adoption of more innovative approaches to promote private sector sustainability, transformation and the leveraging of private-sector technical expertise and financial resources.

Proxying for the Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP, Ms. VIolet Baffour, the program Manager of the NAP-UNDP, E. Abraham T. Tumbey Jr. stated that the vulnerability of Liberia to climate change continues to be a challenge by undermining the country’s efforts to deliver on commitments to important initiatives such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Liberia remains vulnerable to climate change and a range of hazards, such as floods, sea erosion and windstorms leading to protracted livelihood losses and posing threat to economic development, including private businesses,” stated Tumbey.

He explained that the latest climate change predictions for Liberia points to more rapid increases in temperature across some of the most productive regions of the country and predictions of more frequent and severe extreme weather events, and as such, there is an urgent need to engage the private sector in efforts to improve adaptation to climate change.

“It is important for the private sector to engage in adapting to climate risks because financial impacts related to floods, storms, coastal erosion, and other weather-related disasters have risen steadily due to climate change. The degree to which the private sector will engage depends on numerous factors including the level of awareness on the impacts of climate change and the risk to businesses,” he said.

He however called on the government and the private sector to forge a new alliance built on public private partnership to address the impacts of climate change and seek sustainable solutions that deliver a win-win outcome for the government, communities and businesses in Liberia.

Also Speaking, the Coordinator for Multilateral Environmental Agreements at the EPA, Prof. Benjamin S. Karmorh, highlighted that the role of the private sector in addressing the issue of climate change is key.

“As you may know, climate change is not only an environmental issue but rather a developmental issue. Whenever the climate happens to change, it affects all the sectors,” he highlighted.

Prof. Karmorh added that the role of the private sector in managing tomorrow’s resources like the forest is also important because the forest has a lot of resources apart from logs and timbers.

“How do they manage our forest resources; if you can’t extract timber, you can also extract non timber products like those rattan chairs that we use in our homes and offices and energy is another area that we can talk about too because a lot of you are investing in it,” stressed Prof. Karmorh.

For his part, Morris Dougba,  the General Manager of Green Gold Liberia and one of the representatives from the private sector in attendance stressed that one of the major challenges in the private sector is the government of Liberia “crafting policies and expecting the private sector to implement.”

“Liberia has committed to achieving carbon neutrality 2040 but how can we do it? It is written but who will implement it…so,” averred Dougba.

The Program Manager of Cocoa at Solidaridad West Africa Liberia, Boima Bafaie appreciated the organizers for the event and assured them[organizers] that Solidaridad is prepared to work with all the participants especially in meeting the objective of the event.

“One challenge that we have with the private sector companies is the issue of capacity but with the help of this training, we can overcome that,” said Mr. Bafaie.

Solidaridad West Africa focuses on stimulating sustainable supply chains through innovations in production, marketing and trade relations, landscape management and policy enabling. In these efforts, Solidaridad simultaneously addresses food security, nutrition and community development.

Representing the Ministry of  Mines and Energy, the Assistant Minister for Energy, William T. Thompson stated his delight for being in attendance at the same time quizzed the participants, on the medium of electricity being used by them to stimulate economic growth.

“There is an urgent need for us to take immediate action and your source of electricity is very pivotal in contributing to climate change. you cannot stimulate economic growth without power. So whether you are in agriculture, forestry or food and energy production, you need electricity in all capacity and your source of electricity is very pivotal in contributing to climate change,” stressed Asst. Minister Thompson.

He added that his Ministry along with the EPA and the UNDP are all concerned about the private sector and are working out modalities in ensuring the promotion of renewable energy among others.

Private sector stakeholders at the workshop have set up a private sector working group on climate change adaptation to remain engaged with the EPA , National Investment Commision, Ministry of Finance & Development Planning and other actors in fostering access to private sector financing and public private partnerships to fund climate change adaptation initiatives in Liberia.

The engagement and training brought together 65 participants mainly from the private sector, government and the donor community with the aim of training, educating and sharing experience on how to identify and manage risks from climate variability and climate change.

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