By: Joel Cholo Brooks
The Executive Director of Liberia Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh has stressed the urgent need to align environment and climate change with Liberia’s development plan, since everything is impacted by climate change.
Speaking at the closure meeting for the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Project on January 13, 2021, Prof Tarpeh said that the inclusion of environment and climate change into the country’s development plan need to be shown and demonstrated because “climate change has massive and compelling effect on everything we do.”
The closure meeting for the UNDP-supported Green Climate Fund (GCF) financed project “To Advance the National Adaptation Plans (NAP) process for medium-term investment planning in climate-sensitive sectors” was held at Bella Casa Hotel in Sinkor.
The NAP Project was signed on October 16, 2017 by the Government of Liberia and UNDP while the inception meeting kicked off in March 2018 and since then the project has been supporting the advancement of adaptation planning in climate sensitive sectors like agriculture, energy, waste management, forestry, health and coastal areas in Liberia.
The meeting was intended to take stock of the project results, review and share experiences and lessons learnt from the NAP Project that can inform ongoing and emerging and new projects.
The forum attracted over 60 participants including policy makers, project focal points, representatives from line agencies and some experts who worked as consultants.
Speaking further at the meeting, Prof Tarpeh disclosed that the process of developing an adaptation plan was activated in 2018 following that ratification of the Paris Agreement.
This plan in my own limited knowledge is something that is so important- it’s like intellectual property; climate change is something that people don’t touch; so, once you don’t touch it, you don’t know what it is but it has a massive effect, Prof. Tarpeh said.
He emphasized “we need to work the environment and climate change into our national development planning not only by talking it.”
He said climate sensitive and climate resilience projects are in most cases likely to be funded through grant when they are captured in our development activities.
According to the EPA Executive Director the NAP project was exceptionally and excellently executed and disclosed that a number of key benefits were produced.
He lauded Mr. Abraham T. Tumbey for ably coordinating the NAP Project and disclosed that some of the key results produced cannot be terminated because “doing so would nullify the entire project”.
“We have to continue, Prof. Tarpeh emphasized.
He said “when Tumbey came with the report and I saw what we have done-we cannot help, but for us to continue”.
Prof Tarpeh also disclosed that there is a need to include sectional intervention into the climate change and adaptation plan that was developed.
He prefers calling the National Adaptation Plan Project as the National Adaptation Program.
This, according to him “will enable us to see substantively how far we can go.”
Prof. Tarpeh noted that capacity building under the project has been very enormous.
“We were able to get some money to the University of Liberia (UL) for the setting up of the Environmental Science and Climate Change Program,” he disclosed
Prof Tarpeh pledged EPA continuous support to UL, but expressed concern about individuals who would be graduating from the program.
“This mean as an institution, we need to plan decade ahead. What do we do with those graduates? How do we make it meaningful for them? To do that we need to make sure that we include climate change and environmental sensitive issues into every aspect of life in this country,” he stressed.
According to him, this is the only way Liberia can create the capacity and absorb individuals graduating from the Environmental Science and Climate Change Program at UL.
“It is not something big and new,” Prof Tarpeh said everything that we do is impacted by climate change.
For his part, UL President Prof. Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson lauded authorities of the EPA and the UNDP for the NAP Project.
He said “we, at the University of Liberia, are grateful for the support and partnership. It was through the NAP Project that funding was provided for the establishment of the academic programs in Environmental Studies, Biodiversity and Climate Change Graduate and Undergraduate Programs at the University of Liberia.”
Dr. Nelson disclosed that first academic year of the program ended with over 35 graduate students and over one hundred students in the undergraduate program.
He disclosed that as the school begins the second academic year of the program, there is a growing interest by students to enroll in the program at both levels.
Dr. Nelson lauded the EPA and the UNDP for also donating books for the program and described the books as ‘major asset’ to the program.
For his part, Assistant Mines and Energy Minister, Johnson Willabo said that the ministry is satisfied that the key outcome of the project has been achieved.
He noted that the ministry is also elated that through the NAP its capacity to perform has been further enhanced.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia Executive Director, Michael F. Garbo expressed gratitude to EPA and UNDP for including civil society organizations in the implementation of the project.
He disclosed that they (civil society representatives) were able to get a better understanding of climate change through the implementation of the project and pleaded with EPA and UNDP to launch a second NAP Project so that engagement on climate change can continue.