-Finance Minister declares at launch of National Policy and Response Strategy on Climate Change
The Minister of Finance and Development Planning has said that the threats posed by the impact of climate change are overwhelming and as the country remains vulnerable, every effort that will ensure that these threats are mitigated must be welcomed.
Minister Samuel D. Tweah indicated, “Climate change poses a significant threat to people all over the world, particular to livelihoods in least developed countries like Liberia, where climate related impact can have dire consequences for the most vulnerable and deprived societies like ours.”
Speaking at the launch of the National Policy and Response Strategy (NPRS) on Climate Change in Monrovia on Wednesday, Minister Tweah said the country continues to experience recurring instances of such impact of climate change.
He said the unprecedented flooding being experienced across the country imposes disruptions in terms of energy supply, road transport, agriculture production with consequences extending to the domain of education, health, water and sanitation, gender and social protection.
Minister Tweah said climate change has the potential to reverse gains of the past decades and stymie progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “Liberia was not able to meet any of the millennium development goals partly owing to similar erosion of gains emanating from macroeconomic volatility and the recent Ebola epidemic.”
Cognizant of the impacts of this global menace and the dire need for adequate national response, the EPA and its partners, especially the UNDP developed the (NPRS) to guide national response measures, he said.
The strategy further provides guidance on integrating climate change issue into national development planning processes at national, county, district and local level for effective coordination.
With an estimated seventy percent of the economically active population engaged in agricultural activities, the Minister said any severity or worsening of climate impact could have serious economic implications.
EPA Executive Director, Nathaniel Blama said the impact of climate change requires the widest cooperation and participation in an effective and appropriate national response comprising mitigation and adaptation measures in addressing the menace.
He said government’s commitment to develop a climate-resilient economy has also been demonstrated by many strategic short and medium term initiatives and the implementation of key activities.
NPRS, Mr. Blama noted, articulates government’s vision and aspiration for establishing a framework through which concrete are actions taken.
“Considering the huge challenge that climate change poses to national growth and human development, it is my ardent hope that it will lead to the building of a firm foundation for mainstreaming Climate Change action into all key socio-economic programs in order to bring about an integrated response.
Gov’t Gradually Complies with Paris Agreement
With the launch of the NPRS, the government is gradually coming in full compliance with the Paris Agreement.
The Agreement is an international treaty that seeks to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Led by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and went into effect November 4, 2016. It seeks to limit temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius and encourage initiatives that bring the increase down to 1.5 degrees Celsius or lower.
Stakeholders in a group photo after the ceremony
Despite contributing little to climate change, Liberia is especially vulnerable to its impact. Sea-level rise, soaring temperatures and increased rainfall threaten economic and social gains. The agricultural sector is vulnerable, with flooding, erosion and changing rainfall patterns putting lives at risk the EPA Executive Director averred.
The ratification of the agreement by the national Legislature in June and subsequent signing into law by President Weah coupled with the launch of the latest instrument, signify that Liberia is getting closer to reaching its goals for low-carbon, climate-resilient development.
The policy provides further impetus to ongoing effort with which Liberia is engaged, including the NAP and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), submitted prior to the signing of the Paris Climate Change Agreement in 2015.
The NPRS initiative is supported by UNDP through the National Adaptation Plans (NAP) project funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The policy was developed with support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa beginning September 2016.
While the EPA has confirmed that Liberia’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is insignificant, the effects of global warming are having dire consequences on national development effort, and could increase the current challenges in alleviating poverty.
The NPRS will ensure that qualitative, effective and coherent climate change adaptation processes take place. It will serve as the pillar for comprehensive sectoral strategies, and seeks to enable better coordination of climate change work in the country, providing opportunities for cooperation and collaboration between the government and stakeholders.
At the launch, EPA, UNDP and University of Liberia (UL) signed an agreement for support toward the setting up of a graduate program in environmental science through the NAP project with funding from the GCF.
This is meant to prepare students to address the social and biophysical complexities of environmental problems.
The event was graced by high level policymakers and representatives from government entities, partners, and representatives of the donor community, NGOs, women and youth groups, and research and academic institutions.