Liberia ratifies Paris Agreement on climate change in ‘milestone achievement’ to foster low-carbon climate-resilient development
UNDP and Liberian EPA join forces to facilitate ratification process
10 July 2018, Monrovia, Liberia: The National Legislature of Liberia ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change this June with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Liberian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), bringing the country one step closer to reaching its goals for low-carbon, climate-resilient development.
“After reviewing and critically analyzing the Paris Agreement, Liberia stands to benefit from the financial and technological support in maintaining low-carbon climate-resilient development through effective adaptation to climate change and greenhouse-gas emission reduction,” the committee headed by Maryland County Senator H. Dan Morais said.
Despite having contributed little to climate change, Liberia, like many other developing countries, is especially vulnerable to its impacts. Sea-level rise, soaring temperatures and increased rainfall threaten economic and social gains. The agricultural sector, which ensures the livelihoods of around 70 percent of the population, is especially vulnerable, with flooding, erosion and changing rainfall patterns putting lives at risk in a country where nearly eight out of ten people do not have secure access to food.
The Liberian Senate took the decision based on a recommendation by its Foreign Relations Committee, which says the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement are in the interest of the state.
All of the signatory countries to the Paris Agreement were expected to ratify the agreement within their national legislative bodies and begin its implementation based on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted by member countries. According to United Nations Climate Change (UNFCCC), to date, 178 parties have ratified the Paris Agreement of the 197 Parties to the Convention.
In the case of Liberia, progress in ratifying the Paris Agreement had been slow until recently, when the Liberian government through the National Legislature made that bold step to ratify the agreement with the support of UNDP and the EPA, who jointly facilitated this process.
UNDP funded study tours to Ghana for a nine-member delegation from the EPA, Ministry of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and members of the national legislature including the chairpersons on environment and natural resources. The tours provided the opportunity for the legislators and other government officials to interact with their Ghanaian counterparts. They discussed pertinent issues relating to climate change adaptation and its associated challenges and opportunities. They also had the opportunity to observe some of the climate resilient activities being undertaken in Ghana.
“This is a milestone achievement which comes at a time when the government is putting together a new agreement to frame its national development agenda,” said UNDP Liberia Country Director Dr. Pa Lamin Beyai.
According to Dr. Beyai, the signing of the agreement represents a significant step for the people of Liberia. More than half of Liberians live below the poverty line, and flooding, coastal erosion, severe storms and climate-induced food insecurity threaten the country’s efforts to reach the goals to end poverty and hunger by 2030 as outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, while at the same time protecting their environment and contributing to global goals to keep temperature rises below 2 degrees.
The Paris Agreement provides countries like Liberia with the opportunity to access funding and technical know-how to accelerate and mainstream climate actions to reach the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and other global accords.
Adaptation funds can be spent on agriculture resilience to enhance productivity and food security, coastal defenses to safeguard livelihoods and incomes of coastal communities, and disaster preparedness to improve disaster management and limit economic and social losses; all of which favor poor and vulnerable people.
Dr. Beyai has pledged UNDP’s continued support to the government of Liberia through the EPA. “We are working with national counterparts on several initiatives aimed at responding to disasters, mitigating risks and building resilience to natural hazards,” said Dr. Beyai.
Currently, UNDP supports the Government of Liberia to advance its National Adaptation Plans process in climate sensitive sectors under the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) project with funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The project is designed to help strengthen institutional frameworks, policies and coordination, and develop natural disaster risk management and reduction strategies in order to reduce risks and vulnerabilities.
UNDP works in close collaboration with the EPA and National Disaster Management Agency to build capacities to mainstream climate change adaptation into planning and budgeting processes, formulate financing mechanisms for the scaling-up of climate change adaptation initiatives, and prepare local communities to protect themselves in the face of disasters and evolving risks.