The manager for Climate Change at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Liberia, Ben Karmoh, has challenged concessionaires operating in the country to harvest natural resources in a sustainable way so as to preserve the environment.
Mr. Karmoh spoke on Wednesday at the start of a three-day Natural Resources Management seminar on the Environmental Social and Impact Assessment (ESIA) process in Liberia. He said livelihood issues would also be addressed when natural resources are harvested in a sustainable manner.
The three-day natural resources management workshop organized by the EPA in collaboration with USAID-Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative (LAVI) is also intended to afford participants the opportunity to share lessons learned from compliance monitoring on environmental laws and corporate social responsibilities of concessions carried out by the EPA.
Mr. Karmoh emphasized that “the sustainable extraction of our resources will help keep the environment ‘in tight’ and help enhance economic activities in the country.”
He said it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the sustainable harvest of resources, and warned against compromising future generations in the extraction of resources.
EPA’s manager for Planning and Policy, Z. Elijah Whapoe, said that participants will validate a report compiled from ESIA monitoring and compliance in Bong, Bomi, Cape Mount, and Sinoe counties. Oil palm growers, Sime Darby, Golden Veroleum Liberia and MNG Gold are operating in those counties.
Mr. Whapoe said EPA conducted compliance monitoring on environmental laws and corporate social responsibilities at the concessions. He explained that participants from communities near the concessions, where the compliance monitoring was done, are expected to develop action plans to ensure collaborative participation in natural resource management and sustainability.
Aloysius Kotee, the EPA’s assistant manager for ESIA, said the processes involve obtaining an operational permit from EPA, and said that the ESIA process enables the EPA to identify and predict what would happen if a project gets underway. He also noted that the conduct of an ESIA is not just for the purpose of obtaining a permit to operate, but a living document that would be used in court as evidence against companies that violate the terms of their permits.
During the interactive session, EPA’s assistant manager for Environmental Research and Standards, John K. Jallah, said the entity is mandated by the act that created it to provide and revoke licenses issued to companies. Jallah said environmental issues are emerging daily and that the EPA is involved in the investigation of reports of pollution and other related matters.
The EPA is a government regulatory agency with the statutory mandate to establish, monitor, coordinate and supervise the sustainable management of the environment in partnership with regulated ministries and organizations.