Liberia: The UNDP in Partnership with the EPA Review Achievements, challenges and Lessons Learnt at National Adaptation Plan End of Project Meeting

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Monrovia – The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday organized an event in celebration of the successful end of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Project.

The NAP Project Document titled: “To Advance the National Adaptation Plans (NAP) process for medium-term investment planning in climate-sensitive sectors” was signed on the 16 of October 2017 by the UNDP and the Government of Liberia. The project is funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) with the goal to develop the knowledge base and capacity required to reduce vulnerability to climate change and facilitate the integration of climate change adaptation into national development planning processes. The project Inception Meeting kicked off in March 2018 and is currently in its last year of implementation, with project closure expected by 21 January 2021.

Taking into consideration that all the planned project activities have now been completed or being finalized and the project has reached its final stage of implementation, one of the project outputs is the appraisal of the project progress and the achievements made during the project implementation. In view of the above, the end of the project meeting provided for stakeholders to convene a meeting in order not only to illustrate past activities and achievements but also to analyze how stakeholders can sustain and build upon the project gains.

Over the last 3 years the project has been supporting the advancement of adaptation planning in climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture, energy, waste management, forestry, health and coastal areas in Liberia and its[the NAP] key outputs has been based on the following:  strengthening institutional frameworks and coordination for the implementation of the NAP process, expanding the knowledge base for scaling up adaptation, building capacity for mainstreaming climate change adaptation into planning, and budgeting processes and systems, and formulating financing mechanisms for scaling-up adaptation, including public, private, national and international.

Participants included policy makers, project focal points, representatives from sectoral agencies and some experts who worked as resource persons/consultants and some officials from the implementing partners led by the Executive Director of the EPA, Prof. Wilson Tarpeh.

Giving his opening statement, the Executive Director of the EPA, Prof. Wilson Tarpeh applauded UNDP for the effective partnership during the implementation of the project.

“This process of developing an adaptation plan was activated in 2018 after the ratification of the Paris Agreement. This plan in my own limited knowledge is something that is so important-it’s like intellectual property; climate change is something that people don’t touch; so, once you don’t touch it, you don’t know what it is but it has a massive effect,” stated the EPA Boss who added that climate change is everybody business.

Prof. Tarpeh, however, emphasized that the government of which he’s apart has to “work” the environment and climate change into the country’s national development planning.

“Not only by talking about it but it must be shown, it has to be demonstrated; we have to act on it because it makes all the sense. Once we can include climate friendly, climate resilient projects and programs, we can mobilize the necessary resources to enhance resilience and safeguard our critical sectors,” he emphasized.

Representing the Ministry of Finance, the Deputy Minister for Budget and Development Planning, Madame Tanneh G. Brunson, expressed her delight on behalf of Minister Samuel Tweah to grace the project closing ceremony. She also thanked the GCF on behalf of the Ministry of Finance and the Government for its enormous contribution towards the fight against climate change; noting some of the remarkable achievements of the project including: Development of national policies and strategies on climate change and disaster risk reduction; establishment of a landmark graduate school on environment and climate change at the University of Liberia, among others.

 “Though Liberia is not a significant source of greenhouse gases but it is amongst the most vulnerable to climate change risks with severe implications to our development and livelihood,” stated Minister Brunson.

Minister Brunson emphasized that while it is true that much has already been achieved under the NAP, much more needs to be done in scaling up the gains “we have achieved together with other stakeholders.”

“This point is key because climate related disasters often have the propensity of reversing decades of development efforts in small and least developed countries,” she said.

Min. Brunson however disclosed that to strengthen coordination, the MFDP have decided to establish a climate change coordination desk, with hopes that the donor community will help with the operational cost.

Also speaking, the President of the University of Liberia, Prof. Dr. Nelson J.S. Nelson Jr. also appreciated the UNDP and the EPA for coming with the NAP project and also for including the University of Liberia (UL) in said project.

“We, at the UL, are grateful for the support and partnership. It was through the NAP project that fundings was provided for the establishment of Academic programs in Environmental studies, Biodiversity and Climate change at graduate and undergraduate levels at the University of Liberia,” explained the President of the University of Liberia, Prof. Dr. Nelson.

Prof. Dr. Nelson continued: “I am happy to report that we have ended the first Academic Year of the program with thirty-five plus graduate students and one hundred plus students in the undergraduate program.”

The UL President highlighted that as the second year of the academic program draws closer, there is a growing interest by students to enroll in the program at both levels.

In her presentation of the findings of the project terminal evaluation, the National Consultant, Madam Angelance Brown applauded the collaboration between the government of Liberia and UNDP which led to  several components of the project being implemented effectively.

“Liberia’s NAP Project has become and serves as a model of excellence for other countries to build on,” averred Madame Brown.

Cataloguing the next steps, following project closure stakeholders called on the EPA to mobilize the necessary resources to ensure an extension of the NAP project so that many of the plans and frameworks developed can be operationalized. Key action points identified for sustaining the NAP project include:  Need to expand resource mobilization beyond traditional sources (GCF/GEF) by utilizing climate finance products developed by NAP project; government to integrate into all upcoming projects and programs, resources to support further capacity building and retention of staff, include support for University of Liberia under EPA Energy & Environment annual work plan funded by UNDP yearly.

Also, all Ministries should review the project outcomes and further incorporate them into the policies under their custody; and engage the private sector into CCA, including promoting PPP for climate change projects.

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