Liberia: EPA Conducts Training for NGOs, Civil Society Actors On REDD+ Safeguards Information System

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Cross-section of participants at the SIS training for service providers in Ganta, Nimba County

GANTA – The Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) over the weekend concluded a two-day training for members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs,) and the Government of Liberia on the REDD+ Safeguards Information System (SIS).

REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries while “+” signifies + conservation of forests, + sustainable management of forests and + enhancement of forest carbon stocks. 

The REDD+ Safeguards Information System was developed by the EPA and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) with funding from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) to provide information on how the UNFCCC REDD+ ‘Cancun’ safeguards are being addressed and respected throughout the implementation of the national REDD+ Strategy. 

 The World Bank manages the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility Funding.

The two-day REDD+ Safeguards Information System training, which was held in Ganta, Nimba County from 17-18 January 2020 was intended to enable participants assess the fullness and the user friendliness of the system.

The training enabled participants fully understand the institutional arrangements and data collection processes and as well the SIS reporting requirements.

During the training, participants were also taught how to report using the template.

Speaking at the opening of the training, Jeremiah Z. Whapoe, focal point of the Liberia Forest Sector Project (LFSP) and manager of planning and policy at the EPA lauded participants for honoring invitation to attend the training and cautioned them to make maximum use of the opportunity.

Mr. Whapoe said the training was purely technical and said assured it would help prepare participants on how to contribute to the system.

Atty. Roland Lepol of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) lauded the EPA and the FDA for organizing the training and said the SIS is a requirement for the implementation of the REDD+ process. 

Atty. Lepol said that the development of the SIS is a massive achievement for the Government of Liberia and the overall implementation of the REDD+ implementation process in Liberia.

Nick Benitos Goll, II, environmental safeguards coordinator for the LFSP/ REDD+ Project in Liberia, said the SIS system is an easy to use system that builds on existing information systems, which seeks to ensure that information is accessible in an appropriate format to meet the needs of different stakeholders.

In a powerpoint presentation, Mr. Goll explained that the system produces summaries of information on REDD+ safeguards for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

According to him, the system also provides assurances on safeguards implementation and non-carbon benefits to donors, international companies and markets information to Liberian government on contributions to sustainable development assurances to local stakeholders on their social and environmental priorities.

Providing information on the seven REDD+ Safeguards in the UNFCCC, Mr. Goll disclosed that when undertaking REDD+ activities, a country must promote transparent and effective national forest governance structures, respect the rights of indigenous peoples and members of local communities and promoted the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders.

He indicated that the protection and conservation of natural forests and their ecosystem as well as the enhancement of other social and environmental benefits are also essential measures a country undertaking REDD+ must strive to achieved.  

Mr. Goll encouraged members of the public to access information on REDD+ information on the platform at: https://liberia-redd-sis.info/.

Providing an overview of the SIS, Ujay Vah, EPA IT Technician said that the portal is developed on a web-server using WordPress content management System and APP Gini PHP web database application.

The system, according to Mr. Vah uses security authentication to prevent unauthorized access to the website back-end as well as the SIS database.

PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page and is a server-side scripting language while WordPress Content Management System is a Content Management System, that allows you to create and publish your content on the web. WordPress is an open source and is free for anyone to use.

In a powerpoint presentation, Mr. Vah indicated that the user’s manual consists of three sections: Safeguards Information System Website, Safeguards Information System Database, and Important notes for System Administrators.

Safeguards Information System Website section explains how to go the SIS website, navigate your way around the website, edit pages and backup the website.

EPA GIS Officer, Lucas T. Knight in a presentation titled: Introduction to the Safeguard Information System SIS Backend defined backend as the server side of a website. 

He disclosed that the backend stores and arranges data, and also makes sure everything on the client-side of the website works fine. 

“It is the part of the website that you cannot see and interact with,” Mr. Knight said.

He noted that the backend consists of three key elements of a website, i.e., application, web server and database.

For his part, Sanford V. Daniels, a GIS officer at EPA reiterated that the Liberia REDD+ Safeguards Information System is a web-based portal for providing and disseminating information on how the seven (7) adopted UNFCCC Cancun safeguards for REDD+ are being addressed and respected in Liberia. 

The system, he said provides visibility on the implementation of REDD+ in Liberia. 

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