— Educates ‘Major Stakeholders’ on Rio Convention
If Liberians, especially major national stakeholders, ever doubted the deadly impacts of climate change, this is time for them to rethink their position.
Previously, most Liberians might have been witnessing this global phenomenon from afar. But today, it is happening before their eyes: West Point is speedily being consumed by the Atlantic Ocean.
The nation’s largest slum faces imminent danger as a result of the Atlantic’s rapid encroachment. Countless homes have already washed away, with community dwellers unsure what to expect next. Climate change is now very close to home, with the impacts not just seen, but experienced and felt first hand.
The severity of the destruction clearly indicates that environmental protection is becoming a national emergency, requiring not only urgent attention but collective efforts as well. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and its partners therefore want to tackle this problem head on.
Against this backdrop, the agency, with the Forestry Development Authority and partners, convened a two-day muti-sectoral dialogue over the past weekend in Margibi County. Policymakers and stakeholders in attendance included members of the national legislature, ministers of government and some technical ministry personnel.
EPA Executive Director, Nathaniel Blama, said the dialogue was meant to acquaint top level government officials with the environmental management, green house gas inventory, and other climate processes and interventions the EPA and its partners have undertaken, as well as bring greater urgency to the challenges the country faces.
Several presentations were made by environmental experts, providing the attendees with a better understanding of the Rio Convention and other global agreements; and with an aim to secure support for ”legislative mainstreaming” of the Convention through advocacy and improved budgetary allotments.
The dialogue was also used as reminder to the government regarding Liberia’s obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the role of government institutions in achieving the same.
The forum provided assessment and gap analysis on current policies, laws, and plans relative to environmental management; institutional requirements to use best available data and stay abreast of key sectors policies, regulations, and legal instruments supporting or working against Rio Convention mainstreaming in Liberia.
The EPA Director urged stakeholders to prioritize issues of the environment in their deliberations. “We all must take environmental issues as a prime priority if we are to save our country from this marauding menace,” he said.
He added that educate policymakers are essential to driving the national agenda on climate change an environmental protection.
The FDA Managing Director, C. Mike Doryen, said outcomes of the dialogue will greatly accelerate current efforts to mitigate the challenges of climate change in the protection of Liberia’s rain forests. He stressed the need to accelerate public information dissemination on harmful environmental practices people continue to engage in, which only serve to undermine efforts by the government and its partners. He stated that information dissemination would allow local inhabitants to get a better understanding of existing threats to forest and marine ecosystems, and ways to prevent continued land and sea degradation.
Hon. Doryen expressed the FDA’s willingness to work with the EPA and other partners to better utilize LIBERIA’S largest rain forest to raise needed revenue, in accordance with international best practice.
“In the next few months, the FDA will consummate discussion with the EPA, the Ministry of Finance and Development and law enforcement agencies, to ease some restrictions which undermine eco-tourism and to accelerate greater tourism that will lead to greater revenue acquisition,” he said.
Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program in Liberia, Dr. Pa Lamin Beyal, likewise highlighted the importance of greater collaboration in addressing Liberia’s issues of environmental change.
Participation of policymakers, he noted, is key to solidifying the implementation and rollout of the Rio Convention and other vital global agreements. He urged members of the Legislature and other policymakers to champion mainstreaming of the Rio Convention.
Representatives Rosaline Suakoko Dennis and Senator George T. Tengbeh, of Montserrado County district #4 and Lofa County respectively, lauded the conference organizers, noting that it was an eye opener.
“You cannot make decisions when you are not aware or informed. So I think this is a great step forward,” Ms. Dennis said.
She added that educating policymakers about these cardinal issues would help derive the needed solutions and expressed optimism that members of her House committee would commit to working with the EPA and its partners in driving the national agenda to address the issues of climate change.