MONROVIA-The Government of Liberia through the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) has achieved another milestone by launching the Second State of the Environment Report (SoER) and First National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) in the country’s history.
Launching the two instruments, EPA Executive Director Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh, said it has been nearly 15 years since the Agency reported on the state of the environment.
Tarpeh noted that the report identified enormous environmental challenges relating to deforestation, waste management, unregulated bush meat hunting, pollution of water bodies, illicit artisanal mining, unregulated of fishing activities in our marine ecosystem, destruction of wetlands, issue of climate change and others.
“I am pleased to inform you that after fifteen years when the First State of the Environment Report was released, the EPA had and continues to make tremendous progress in addressing environmental and climate change problems in the country.”
He termed this as a remarkable achievement that has been made to include the steady awareness of environment and climate change issues in the country; mainstreaming of climate change in the national development agenda, consideration of environmental and climate change risk in major developmental activities through the Environmental Social and Impact Assessment (ESIA) Platform, domestication of the multilateral environmental agreements, formulation of major environmental strategies which include the National Climate Change Policy and Response Strategy, the completion of the revised Nationally Determined Contributions(NDCs).
Tarpeh did mention the formulation of the First and Second National Biodiversity and Strategy Action Plans, the eradication of the ozone depleting substances, the protection and management of wetlands of international importance, support for the establishment of the graduate programme in Environmental Science, Climate Change and Biodiversity at the nation’s premier university, the University of Liberia and many more.
All these efforts made, he said are intended to ensure that the EPA protects and manages the environment for the promotion of a resilient sustained environment.
The EPA boss expressed excitement to launch the Second State of the Environment Report and First National Environmental Action Plan which has been long coming, saying; “the first SOER was developed and launched in 2006 with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and today we have gathered to launch the 2nd SOER in accordance with the Environmental Protection and Management Law of Liberia (EPML). The EPML provides that a SoER should be produced every Five (5) years.”
In 2016, EPA negotiated with the Liberia Forest Sector Project (LFSP) and pushed for this to be done and the World Bank (WB) accepted the proposal. The process has been tedious and we are grateful that a Liberian Firm, GREENCONS, competed with other international firms to develop the SOER and NEAP and, we are glad they have completed the work.”
Prof. Tarpeh further explained that “the SOER for 2007-2018 and its NEAP for 2019-2023 have been developed and completed. The report reveals the current condition of the environment in Liberia. It presents an overview of the country, the state of the environment and trends under various themes: agriculture, water, forestry and biodiversity, atmospheric, geology and soils, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, climate change etc., as well as the important linkages between environment and poverty, health and the potential value of ecosystems services.”
He continued: “Based on information contained in the report, it is clear that Liberia is endowed with rich forest reserve and biodiversity hotspots; however, the country faces environmental and social challenges. It is therefore incumbent upon us to improve the state of our environment and promote prosperity for current and future generations. We anticipate that findings in the NEAP will be mainstreamed into national and sectoral planning and contribute to decision making for the betterment of Liberia.”
He acknowledged REDD+ Implementation Unit (RIU) and FDA for their collaboration and support, the Consulting firm, GREENCONS, the EPA Focal Point, Mr. Z. Elijah Whapoe who supervised the development of the SOER and NEAP, saying “we remained forever grateful to our ESIA technical committee, the folks at the department of Planning and Policy for helping to make this happened.”
Similarly, Prof. Tarpeh also extended profound thanks and appreciation to the Government of Norway for the financial contributions that enabled EPA to produce the Second State of Environment Report and the First National Environmental Action Plan.
For her part, Deputy Finance Minister for Budget and Development Planning, Tanneh G. Brunson, said the report could not have been launched at a more critical time than now when the government is exploring opportunities to foster economic growth and development to improve the livelihood of citizens and also in the face of growing environmental challenges in countries around the world including Liberia.
She said the report covers wide range of issues from terrestrial resources to aquatic and atmospheric resources as well as cross-section resources and environmental linkages, adding that all of these concern the green and blue economy of the SDGs goal 15 (life on land) and SDGs goal 14 (life under water.)
“I cannot overemphasize the significance of issues expressed in this report to our existence in terms of our livelihood, cultural and social stability, our health, economic growth and development and our future prosperity,” she said.
She added that the report provides series of recommendations to various issues across all sectors that policymakers and technicians need to use as guide.
Deputy Minister Brunson reaffirmed government’s commitment to the allocation of funding through the national budget “as we look to our donor partners for support to the EPA and all other institutions concerned with addressing the critical issues highlighted in this report.”
The specific objectives of the launch of the SOER and NEAP are: to present the SOER Report and NEAP to the Government of Liberia, its partners and the general public; increase public awareness and education on the environment of Liberia for informed policy decision-making; give insight on the linkages between environment and sustainable development; solicit buy-in from policymakers in strengthening environmental governance in the country; and rally donor supports to address environmental issues outlined in the NEAP and the subsequent preparation of SOER.