A one-day roundtable for establishing a Think Tank on Climate Change Risk Management in the Agriculture Sector in Liberia ended in Monrovia recently.
The gathering under the auspices of the Climate Change Adaptation Agriculture Project of the Ministry of Agriculture brought together 38 participants from the Government of Liberia particularly the Ministry of Agriculture, FDA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ministry of Gender and Development as well as FAO, UNDP, Civil society organizations, Farmers’ Associations and Universities.
Think tanks conduct research on specific problems, encourage the discovery of solutions to those problems, and facilitate interaction among researchers, scientists, economists, and academics for policy reform advocacies in pursuit of these goals and in this case, Climate Change. Think tanks can be associated with universities or governments, or they can be stand-alone private organizations.
Following lengthy discussions of the framework for setting up the Think Tanks in Liberia, the participants unanimously agreed to launch the national Think Tank on climate change as a stand-alone organization, following the adoption of its constitution, at another forum to be organized early October, this year.
The Director General of the Program Management Unit (PMU) at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Moses Zinnah, in his Opening Remarks, urged the participants to set up the organization so that it is not only a “Think Tank” but a “Think-and-do tank”. He stressed the need to formulate ideas which would enable Liberians understand the climate change phenomenon and how through research adaptation strategies would be put in place for the benefit of Liberian farmers. He referenced reports from prior research on the cost of mitigation and adaptation to climate change – emphasizing that he believed in those figures.
During the forum, Assistant Agriculture Minister for Technical Services, Chea Garley, in his Keynote Address outlined the significance of the Think Tank in potentially driving key policy reforms for enabling the management of climate change risks in the agriculture sector. He said that most policy makers have shown keenness to think or act on climate change only when there has been a disaster induced by climate change.
He admonished participants to do all they can in crafting a constitution that would make the Think Tank real. He concluded that when finally established the Think Tank should engender research and facilitate discussions among different groups in the form of policy dialogues, symposiums and present the statistics to policy makers as a case for their action.
Mr. Benjamin Karmorh, National Climate Change Focal Point, of the Environmental Protection Agency also informed the gathering that the Think Tank would be the first of its kind in Liberia. He added that it would provide the platform for all key actors in the sector to share knowledge and information which would be useful for helping our farmers.
He furthered that nearly all of the policies and strategies for the agriculture sector did not concretely articulate how to address the many climate risks and that this Think Tank will lead discussions to ensure that the polices are reformed.