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Liberia To Host Forest and Climate Event


Top: A drone photograph of a log yard in Greenville, Sinoe County. The DayLight/Derick Snyder

By Mark B. Newa

MONROVIA – Liberia is hosting an international forest and climate conference, expected to reassess the commitment of the Liberian government and the international community to the protection of the country’s rainforest, the largest in the west African region. The event comes amid widespread irregularities and impunity in Liberia’s forestry sector.   

“Liberia remains committed to the global climate change agenda,” President George Weah said in the State of the Nation Address on Monday, announcing the event, which will take place on Wednesday at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.

“We are looking to improve governance of the forest sector and move toward a more effective management of our forest reserves, to help us transition to a better model of climate finance,” Weah said. He added Liberia is working to enlarge its protected areas and was committed to reducing reliance on commercial logging.

Delegates expected to attend the conference include envoys from the World Bank, and the ministers of environment and forests from Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Cote d`Ivoire are also expected to attend. The climate change special envoy of Norway—the country that provided Liberia with US$150 million to combat deforestation—and the Norwegian ambassador to Liberia are also expected to attend, organizers of the event say. The same goes for the European Union, which has had a logging trade agreement with Liberia since 2011, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Kingdom.

Liberia hosts 43 percent of the last two significant blocks of the remaining closed canopy tropical rainforest within the Upper Guinea Forest, West Africa’ spanning from Ghana, Cote d`Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo. Liberia has committed to conserving 30 percent of the existing forested areas of the country.

“There are doubts from some partners that Liberia is not moving in this direction, but the forest law says we should put under conservation at least 30 percent of all our remaining forest estates to conservation,” Saah David, Jr., the national coordinator of REDD+, one of the organizers of the event. REDD+ means reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

“The forum will be used as means to now push partners to also recommit to helping Liberia helps itself,” David added.

The conference, which was rescheduled from October last year, will feature experiences from Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Ghana, a country that has just been enrolled into the global carbon financing program.  Ghana is now the second country in Africa after Mozambique to receive payments from the World Bank for reducing its carbon emission.

The conference comes at a time the Liberian forestry sector is marred by illegalities. Associated Press recently reported that President George Weah ignored calls from foreign partners to tackle the illegalities in the forestry sector. The investigation report highlighted illegalities in the forestry sector. Liberia failed the natural resource management component of the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC), an American agency that measures countries’ economic policies and potential for growth.  

The report said Weah had ignored calls from the international community to address forestry non-compliance, saying they were “nonsense.”

The low budgetary allotment has been another issue. In the 2021/2022 fiscal year, the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) received just below US$2.9 million, more than 90 percent of which is employees’ salaries.

But there has been some progress made in the sector. Liberia has created the Sapo National Park, the East Nimba Nature Reserve, Lake Piso Multiple Use Reserve, and the Gola National Forest. It has begun the establishment of proposed protected areas: Kpo, Krahn-Bassa Foya and others.

Journalists Should Investigate Climate Funds, CEO of Global Funder Says at COP27


Top: Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO Carlos Manuel Rodriquez speaks to journalists at COP27. Photo credit: Evelyn Seagbeh

By Evelyn Kpadeh Seagbeh

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt – The Global Environment Facility’s chief executive officer and chairperson did not mince his words identifying the role of the media in tracking funds given to combat the global threats posed by climate change.

The media, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez said, is critical in tracking how countries use the monies that are given to them, whether grant monies or loans that are meant for environmental or climate change initiatives in their respective countries.

“We work in countries where the perceptions of corruption are high but that wouldn’t be a limitation for us to work. That is why it is so important for us to have you all journalists doing your work,” Rodriquez told journalists at the margins of the global event.  

“Countries come here (at the COP) and they brag about how good they are doing but they have not been totally transparent in what they do at the country level. There are lots of data materials that you need to track from here.”

“The country needs to be reporting to the people how they are doing with their climate commitment, but that is not happening because the journalists are not there yet. I hope this can be the first generation of journalists that do political control on climate action at the country level,” Rodriquez said.

The Global Environment Facility is the world’s largest funder of biodiversity protection, nature restoration, pollution reduction, and climate change response in developing countries with an investment portfolio worth about US$22 billion, and co-financing more than 5,000 national and regional projects. Liberia is one of the benefiting countries.  

Article 13 of the Paris Agreement from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) calls for transparency, accountability, and monitoring for countries to report to the convention.  

For 30 years, the Global Environment Facility has been a major partner in supporting some of Liberia’s environmental and climate change programs. Its support to Liberia has focused on creating a system of protected areas, working with local communities in land tenure, and sustainable harvesting among other things.

Emphasizing the role of the media in ensuring that there is transparency and that GEF project countries deliver on their deliverables and adequately account for money given for climate and environment programs, Rodriquez added the role of the media was critical. 

Rodriguez called on the media to pay close attention to monitoring countries’ implementation of the National Determined Contribution (NDC).

On November 8, 2022, the Liberian delegation at the COP27 launched the country’s revised NDC implementation. Keen among the country’s national goals is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 64 percent by 2030 and prioritize climate actions with a multi-stakeholder engagement approach. NDC is a climate action plan to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts that each party to the Paris Agreement signed. It requires nations to establish an NDC and update it every five years detailing policy actions. 

Seven countries jointly pledged added support to the GEF for addressing the most urgent climate action needs of the least developing countries, including the implementation of NDCs.  

The new portfolio “The Least Developed Countries Funds (LDCF)” is to the tune of US$105.6 million with Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Walloon Region of Belgium contributing the new funding.  

The new commitment from the seven nations now adds to the $413 million that 12 donor countries have pledged to support the Least Developed Countries Funds (LDCF) at COP26 in Glasgow last year.

This story is produced as part of the 2022 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.