The Government of Liberia through the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have begun a series of consultations on what is needed to ensure a healthy planet for the prosperity of all ahead of the 50th anniversary meeting of the United Nations Environment Conference in Sweden, June.
At the first of two regional dialogues in Buchanan, Grand Bassa in support of Stockholm+ 50, the EPA and UNDP initiated an inclusive debate looking at what has and hasn’t been achieved 50 years, since the UN Environmental Conference in Stockholm, Sweden.
Dubbed as the ‘Stockholm+ 50 Regional Consultations’, the dialogue attracted superintendents and city mayors of several cities in Rivercess, Margibi, Grand Bassa and Sinoe counties, as well as representatives of the disabled communities, youth and women groups.
Representatives of line ministries, agencies and commission of government and non-governmental organizations also attended the consultation. Speaking at the start of the gathering, EPA Executive Director, Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh said that the discussion would lead to two major dialogues that will culminate in writing Liberia’s Country Report in support of the Stockholm+50 June Conference which will be held in Sweden.
He explained that in 1972, the Government of Sweden hosted the first UN Conference on Human Environment which ended with the formulation of a Declaration often referred to as the Stockholm Declaration which contained 26 principles around the environment and development, an Action Plan with 109 recommendations and a Resolution.
“Since then there had been succeeding conferences on environment and Development with the overarching goal of alleviating poverty while protecting the environment,” Prof. Tarpeh said.
According the EPA Boss, four cardinal pillars were identified as the building blocks for the Stockholm Declaration.
He adds “They are: society, environment, culture and economy.”
According to him, these pillars are very important in addressing the environment and development in a mutually beneficial way. The EPA Boss further noted that in fulfillment of some major milestones in terms of creating national environment regulatory frameworks under the Stockholm Declaration, it took the Government of Liberia more than three decades to develop three major environmental regulatory frameworks in 2003.
They are the ‘Act Creating the Environment Protection Agency of Liberia, ‘Environmental Policy’ and ‘Environmental Protection and Management Law.'
“Since 2003 when the doors of the EPA were formally opened, the EPA continues to exert herself in achieving her statutory mandate in ensuring a clean, safe and healthy environment despite her numerous challenges ranging from low national budgetary allocations, limited space in its present headquarter, under equipped and funded laboratory and many other challenges,” Prof. Tarpeh disclosed.
Despite the challenges, Prof. Tarpeh bragged that the EPA has been able to performed remarkably well in raising awareness on environmental and climate change issues; mainstreaming environment and climate change in the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development and ensuring the conduct of Environmental Impact Assessment for activities that have the potential to impact the environment.
He disclosed that the EPA has also been able to produce Multilateral Environmental Agreement Reports; Accessed funding from the Global Environment Facility, Green Climate Fund, and other sources to carry on major interventions. The EPA has also established Nature Clubs in many high schools and established undergraduate and graduate school programs in Environmental Science, Climate Change, and Biodiversity at the nation’s premier University of Liberia.
This year Stockholm +50 in June will be celebrated under the theme: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity”.
Cross-section of Participants at the Regional Consultation in Buchanan