Liberia Launches National Policy and Response Strategy on Climate Change

Dr. Ophelia I. Weeks, Preisdent, Univeristy of Liberia, Mr. Pa Lamin Beyai, UNDP Country Director and Hon. Nathaniel Blama, EPA Executive Director signing an MOU at the launch

Monrovia – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Liberia with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) through the National Adaptation Plans (NAP) has launched the National Policy & Response Strategy on Climate Change.

Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]

Declaring the official launch of the policy on behalf of the Liberian Government, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah said the climate change policy and response strategy represent a significant milestone in Liberia’s effort to combat the hazard of climate change.

Minister Tweah added that the document demonstrates the country’s commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement which Liberia’s ratified a fortnight ago.

According to the Finance Minister, climate change has the potential to reverse the gains of the past decades and is partly responsible for Liberia’s failure to achieve any of the Millennium Development Goals.

Minister Tweah: Liberia was not able to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals partly owing to the similar erosion of gains emanating from macroeconomic volatilities and the Ebola epidemic. Climate-induced volatilities can only exacerbate our already vulnerable and difficult macroeconomic situation, compelling the need for a concerted, coordinated and results-driven approach that can only be inspired by this National Policy and Response Strategy on Climate change we are launching today.”

He also mentioned that the unprecedented crippling effects of climate change have been felt in major sectors of the Liberian society including the environment, agriculture and health.

A climate-induced disaster such as flood, sea erosion and storm surge, according to him, have resulted into displacement of vulnerable people and loss of income and livelihood as well as damage of properties.

“The unprecedented flooding being witnessed across the countries today imposes disruptions in energy supply, road transport, and agriculture production with consequences extending to domains of education, health, water and sanitation, gender and social protection,” he said

Speaking earlier, EPA Executive Director, Nathaniel Blama asserted that the National Climate Change Policy in Liberia and Response Strategy is a framework which will establish specific provisions for dealing with climate change issues, understanding the extent of the threat and putting in place specific actions to mitigate potential impacts.

Cross section of stakeholders attending the launch of the National Policy and Response Strategy on Climate Change

Cognizant of the impacts of climate change and the dire need for an adequate national response, Blama noted that the Government of Liberia through the EPA developed the policy to guide national response measures in addressing the menace.

The EPA boss added that the strategy provides the guidance on integrating climate change issues into national development planning processes at national, county, district and local levels for effective coordination.

He recounted that the government’s commitment to develop a climate-resilient economy has been demonstrated by many strategic short and medium-term actions including implementation of key activities under the National Adaption Action Plan (NAPA), the establishment of the National Climate Change Secretariat, development of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the funding of the Monrovia Metropolitan Climate Resilient Project among others.

“Liberia’s vulnerability to adverse effects of climate change makes adaption national priority issues, demanding [policy direction at the highest level, with full commitment attached. The country’s mitigation potential due to the presence of the largest portion of the Upper Guinea Forest, must be harnessed to ensure that it participates in the global efforts for a continuous reduction in emissions,” he averred.

For his part, UNDP Country Director, Pa Lamin Beyai noted that the launch of the policy following the government’s recent ratification of the Paris Agreement is a clear demonstration of its commitment to join global forces in fighting climate change.

Mr. Beyai lauded the EPA and other partners for their effort in the formulation of the policy and pledge UNDP continuous support to government’s fight against climate change.

Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the launch of the National Policy & Response Strategy, the EPA, UNDP and University of Liberia signed a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of a graduate program in Environmental Science at the University of Liberia through the National Adaptation Plans project with funding from the Green Climate Fund.

The event was attended by high-level policy makers and representatives from government entities and international partners including the Forestry Development Authority and the Ministries of Defense and Mines and Energy respectively.