“We Are In This Together; Let’s Pursue Our Goal”
Liberia’s forests represent one of the promising forests in West Africa, if not the entire world. Their richness and greenness remain original and naturally conserved thus being potential repository of carbon elements.
We are proud in that we still hold unto what Nature has endowed us unlike many others who are affected by as consequence degradation. In the eyes of the international community we stand colorful and admirable especially at a time when climate change mitigation has become the concern of the global community.
Our government has taken the lead through the 2006 reforest reform law to set aside about 30 percent of our forest as protected area. Before National Legislature are proposed Gola Forest National Park and Wide life Acts awaiting enactment. We happy that our recent meeting with House and Senate’s standing committees on Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry yielded desired given their confirmation to pass the Acts into law. We anxiously await fruition of this process because the conscious sustainability of our forests means a lot as far as survival.
Based on our own willingness to preserve and conserve a certain portion of our forest our partners have and continue to embrace this vision and mission and are standing side by side with us in the process. For instance, the government of the Kingdom of Norway had graciously pledged to make available USD$ 150 million intended to kindle this effort.
We consider the effort of the Norwegian government as fulfilling its corporate social responsibility to the world. This money is neither a grant nor loan; it is intended to enhance the capacity small holders and forest dependents in the country. We say hat off to the Norwegians for their intent which we believe would be embraced heartily and understood as workable panacea as we strive for a sustainable management of our forests that are part of the greatest gifts bequeathed us by Nature.
We can safely infer that the partnership aims at facilitating green growth through the development of a deforestation free agricultural sector in the country. Norway will support Liberia’s efforts with up toUSD$150 million until 2020.
Prior to the signing of this landmark partnership there were several consultations with Civil Society Organizations working in the forestry sector, Government Ministries and agencies.These consultations were climaxed with a visit from the Government of Norway in June 2014.
During the Norwagian delegation’s visit a meeting with Civil Society Organizations was held at the Mamba Point Hotel on the night of June 10, 2014.10.22
On June 11, 2014 the delegation met with the Forestry Sector Working Group at the FDA head office in Whein Town, Monrovia. That meeting was followed by yet another meeting at the Ministry of Finance chaired by then Acting Minister, Hon. Sebastine Muah with officials of the Land Commission, LISGIS, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Lands Mines and Energy and the Evironmental Protection Agency.
The delegation later during the day met with the REDD Technical Working Group at the Environmental Protection Agency and proceeded to a meeting with President Sirleaf at her Foreign Ministry Office. A dinner was held at the Mamba Point Hotel on the night of June 11, 2014 for the visiting delegation.
In the initial years of the partnership funds from Norway – up to USD $ 55 million – will be devoted to the implementation of policy measures and institution building necessary to reach the phase which entails payments for reduced carbon emissions, while $ 15 million will be for direct budgetary support to the National Government, meaning phase one will total USD $ 70 million.
In the period towards 2020, an additional USD $ 80 million will be paid for verified reduced emissions. Implementation of the partnership will be flexible and adapted to the challenging circumstances of Liberia.
What does this agreement with Norway mean for the people of Liberia?
- Enable Liberia to place 30% or more of her forest estate under protected area status before 2020, something we have been unable to do since due to the lack of funds
- Build capacity in relevant institutions and further increase efforts to enforce the law, strengthen forest governance to avoid illegal and unsustainable logging
- Refrain from issuing any new logging concessions until all concessions have been reviewed by an independent body to ensure compliance with the laws (for example, building of sawmills as stated by law, employing competent Liberians as required by law, etc.)
- Piloting direct payments to communities for protecting their forest
- Establish a public-private coalition with multilateral companies committed to ambitious zero deforestation policies. To this effect we can leverage our membership with the Tropical Forest Alliance
The agreement further aims to contribute to sustainable development in Liberia through the protection of natural forests, restoration of degraded lands, the development of Liberia’s agriculture through the enhancement of sustainable agricultural management, and greening supply chain, among others.
Under the General Approach and Principles of the agreement, the parties will give all relevant stakeholders, including local communities, civil society and women in particular, the opportunity to fully and effectively participate in the planning and implementation of REDD+.
Additionally, the parties (Norway and Liberia) will respect the rights of individuals, indigenous forest dependent and local communities to give or withhold their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to operations on lands to which they hold legal communal and customary rights and ensure that those tenure rights are respected.
Still under the General Approach and Principles, the parties will seek proposals and progressive scaling up of financing, actions and results over time based on principle of payment for performance and be fully transparent under the partnership and related efforts by the government of Liberia and its other development partners, among others.
Prior to the signing of the agreement, the government of Liberia had already put in place and mobilized the necessary institutions and the legal regulatory frameworks tasked with supporting the successful implementation of a REDD+ strategy in Liberia.
Some of the undertakings by Liberia prior to the signing of the agreement with Norway which constitute the phase one includes:
- the successful preparation and submission of a Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility which proposal was approved in March 2012,
- the ratification of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement(VPA) for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade with the European Union,
- the National Forestry Reform Law of 2006,
- the Community Rights Law of 2009 with Respect to Forest lands and its attending Regulations, and
- the Code of Harvesting practices which entails low impact logging activities among others.
Phase two of the agreement will be initiated in January 2015 and will include strategy development and multi-stakeholder participation, capacity building in key institutions, civil society and communities as well as legal reform and law enforcement.
Others are measurement, reporting and verification and reference level development, social and environmental safeguards, Protected Areas Expansion and Strengthening. Land use Planning and analysis, Sustainable Agriculture Development, Testing incentive for landowners participating in REDD+.
Phase three focuses on financial contributions by Norway where all REDD+ contributions will be triggered by agreed deliverables regarding the reform agenda outlined in the agreement. These contributions will initially flow through the World Bank Liberia REDD+ Investment Program and will gradually develop into payments for verified emissions reductions to finance Liberia’s full green growth development portfolio.
Norway has the intention to contribute funds to Liberia’s REDD+ efforts up to an amount of 150,000.000USD for a multi-year period starting 2014 given verified progress on agreed deliverable.
We have an unwavering commitment to work with all of our partners including the Liberian Timber Association (LTA), Civil Society, The forest dependent Communities and other partners who have stake in the proper management of our forest resource.
We will never engage in any act that will infringe on the interest of any of our partners and our people. We remain open to dialogue with our diverse partners and are determined holding will meetings with them at a roundtable conference to sort any area where we may have some doubt or may have misunderstood the intent and purpose of this agreement. We are in this together; let us pursue a common agenda.