Liberia vulnerable to climate change

The 14th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change got underway in Poznan, Poland, 1-12 December 2008.  Liberia was represented at the Conference by a 5-man delegation, headed by Ben Turtur Donnie, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

 The Conference was attended by more than ten thousand people representing governments, donors, NGOs, civil society, youth activities, stream of press and observers. The Conference was climaxed by a Ministerial High Level Segment, 11-12 December.  Liberia presented a statement during the high level segment.

At the high level segment, Liberia indicated its vulnerability to climate change which includes erratic weather change, increase in temperature, tropical storm, floods and coastal erosion.  The statement informed the body that the environment was featured in Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, indicating that combating climate change is a way of reducing poverty.

The statement was read by the Head of the Liberian Delegation, Ben Turtur Donnie, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia, and expressed Liberia’s dissatisfaction over the slow progress being made by developed countries providing support for addressing the implementation of the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) by Least Developing Countries including Liberia.

Mr. Donnie drew the attention of delegates to the issue of Capacity Building under the ongoing UN Climate Change Negotiation. He indicated that Capacity Building should be seen at three fronts-systemic, technical and institutional.  Commitments to capacity building must therefore come on board, especially within the context of the Nairobi Framework.

On the issue of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD),

Liberia highlighted that REDD should be pursued based on National Circumstances, taking into account that carbon credits accrued under the REDD Platform of pre-2012 must be taken into account during post-2012 in order to encourage investment in technological advancement and developments. Liberia further indicated that the development of codes of ethics and conduct for dealing with local communities is crucial under the REDD Regime.

Mr.  Donnie informed delegates that Liberia was on  the verge of implementing its first Clean Development Mechanism Project that has to do with composting and gas flaring from the Wehn Town Waste Disposal Site.

On the issue of mainstreaming Gender in climate change activities, Liberia along with South Africa, Uganda, Sierra Leone and other delegates called on the  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat to consider this issue as urgent priority since women, children and elderly are more vulnerable to Climate Change.  The Liberian statement informed delegates about the International Women’s Colloquium to be held in Monrovia, 7-8 March 2008, and hosted by the Presidents of Liberia and Finland and promised that the Liberian Government will extend an invitation to the Secretariat of the UNFCCC.

During the course of the meeting, the Liberian Delegation had a side event presentation along with Bolivia highlighting Liberia’s opportunities and challenges for REDD implementation. The Delegation also had series of consultations with bilateral and multilateral donors, including Norway, Princes of Wales Rainforest Project delegation, World Bank and UNIDO on the issue of addressing climate change in Liberia.  Norway and the Prince of Wales delegation expressed interest in supporting the forestry sector in Liberia, while UNIDO has announced the approval of a US$2,000,000.00 mini hydro electric project for Liberia.

Members of the Liberian Delegation were Hon. Ben Turtur Donnie, Head of Delegation and Executive Director of EPA, Hon. Ekemaa Whitherspoon, Assistant Managing Director, Forestry Development Authority, Mr. Benjamin Karmorh, Jr, Climate Change Enabling Activities Coordinator, EPA, Mr. Augustine Johnson, GIS Specialist, Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and Mr. Alexander Louise Peal, Country Director, Conservation International (CI)-Liberia.

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