Liberia has validated the updated National Capacity Self-Assessment (NCSA) Report, a requirement of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for countries that are signatories to the Rio and Ramsar Conventions.
The updated NCSA Report was validated at a two-day meeting organized by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Cross-Cutting Capacity Development (CCCD) Project in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The meeting was held in Kakata, Margibi County from August 26-27, 2022, and brought together representatives of government Line Ministries, Agencies & Commissions (MAC), civil society groups, and institutions of higher learning.
Liberia is a signatory to the three key Multilateral Environmental Agreements including the Conventions on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as the Ramsar Convention.
As a signatory to these conventions, the country is updating and reporting on its previous national capacity barriers after 16 years to meet the obligations set under each convention and to meet global environmental objectives.
Liberia’s progress started in 2002 with the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as the government agency responsible for coordinating the government’s response to global environmental management and leading scientific efforts that equip the Liberian populace to make a meaningful contribution toward protecting their environment.
The separation of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NAFAA) from the Ministry of Agriculture; a total of eight (8) National Environmental Policies and legislations or laws were developed for the mainstreaming of the UNFCCC in Liberia; while a total of seven (7) National Environmental Policies and legislation or laws were developed to fully enhance the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification; and a total of twenty-three (23) National Environmental Policies, regulations, and legislation or laws were also developed to enhance the full implementation of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Liberia which is all detailed in this report, provide the foundation for the full implementation of the three Rio conventions in Liberia.
Prior to 2006, Liberia undertook numerous initiatives to address environmental issues. Despite the achievements Liberia made, the country continues to face important challenges at the time to meet environmental goals.
In Liberia’s 2006 National Capacity Self-Assessment (NCSA), which was undertaken through a consultative process and participatory approach that involved numerous stakeholders from various sectors identified barriers that stood in the way of fully mainstreaming the Rio Conventions in Liberia. Some key barriers identified in the 2006 NCSA were; inadequate public awareness and education/training, Inadequate institutions and institutional frameworks, Inadequate political commitment, Inadequate financial resources and economic framework, Inadequate access to information, Inadequate policies and legal frameworks, and lack of an effective mechanism for information processing and sharing, weak institutional coordination amongst others.
The objective of the workshop was to share the key findings of the national capacity assessment and gaps and to review and agree on the action plans /recommendations of the draft NCSA report. After the presentations on the findings and action plan by the consultant, the participants made comments and input. The feedback from the participants was incorporated into the final draft of the report, the NCSA report is expected to be published by the end of the last quarter of 2022.
Speaking during the opening of the workshop, Mr. Aaron S. M. Wesseh, Coordinator of the CCCD Project, said the report is a synthesis of findings gathered from capacity assessment undertaken at the national level by national consultants over the last 12 months to set a new baseline for the implementation of the Rio Conventions.
He noted that the information contained in this report is drawn largely from the three Thematic Assessment Reports: Biodiversity, Climate change, and sustainable land management.
“The updated National Capacity Self-Assessment and Action Plan will be sold to partners for funding support to further bridge the capacity gaps systemically, institutionally, and individually for Liberia to meet her obligations as a party”, he added.
He concluded by saying, “the stocktaking involves identifying all national activities and documents that are relevant to the convention themes as well as core national environmental priorities”.
For their part, Speakers at the workshop talked about the pressing issues of climate change, biodiversity loss, and desertification in Liberia. They were in agreement that the Government of Liberia, with the support of development partners, needs to enhance the capacity of the relevant institutions to address these important environmental issues. The speakers emphasized the need for an Environmental Court for more sustainable management of the country’s natural resource base.
In support of the country implementation of these conventions, the EPA in collaboration with the UNDP embarked on the implementation of the CCCD Project and the updating of the NCSA for Liberia, funded by the GEF.
The CCCD project started in 2018 with the aim of strengthening a targeted set of national capacities to deliver and sustain global environmental outcomes within the framework of sustainable development priorities. The expected outcome of the project is that Liberia will be able to achieve global environmental benefits at a lower transactional cost as well as be able to respond faster and more appropriately to conservation needs. This means: improved access to best practices and best available knowledge, including innovative research; improved coordination, collaboration, and delegation of responsibilities among key agencies and other important organizations; enhance institutional and technical capacities; improved awareness of global environmental values, and update the NCSA to reflect post-2015-SDGs.
The various consultative engagements and capacity-building initiatives were held to bridge the capacity gaps that were identified in the 2006 NCSA.