Pledges $US150m to Conserve Liberia’s Forests
As global warming and other related threats to the existence of mankind shudder the world community of which Liberia is no exception, the government of the of Kingdom of Norway is practically demonstrating its concern by pumping in needed funds to Liberia and other countries aimed at preventing or reversing the growing adverse climatic condition.
Accordingly, she has pledged the amount of US$ 150million to the government of Liberia with the intention conserving Liberia’s forests, something which is being described in most quarters as fulfillment of global social responsibility.
Norway’s letter of Intent signed by the Foreign Ministers of both countries (Liberia, Norway), during 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. USD$15million would be used for direct budgetary support to the national government, meaning that phase will total USD$ 70 million.
The document further explained the period towards 2020, an additional USD$ 80 million for verified reduced emissions. The document said implementation of the partnership will be flexible and adapted to the challenging circumstances of Liberia.
The Agreement requires Liberia to place 30 percent or more of her forest estate under protected area status before 2020, something which the country has been able to do over the years due lack of funds.
Elaborating further on the Agreement in a press conference the Managing Director of FDA Hon. Harrison S. Karnwea, Sr. said Norway will build capacity in relevant institutions and further increase efforts to enforce the law, strengthen forest governance to avoid illegal and unsustainable logging.
He noted government will 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 Liberia as required by law, etc.)
He said there will be a direct piloting payments to communities for protecting their forest, while establishing 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 managing stated emphatically adding, “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:
(a) 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,
(b) the ratification of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement(VPA) for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade with the European Union,
(c) the National Forestry Reform Law of 2006,
(d) the Community Rights Law of 2009 with Respect to Forest lands and its attending Regulations, and
(e) 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,.
“My dear countrymen”, the Managing Director concluded, “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, REPEAT; 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, as a first step, will be inviting all of our partners to 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.”