By Victor C. Hanson, Jr
The Government of Liberia and the Kingdom of Norway have signed US$150 million agreement to improve forest governance, strengthen law enforcement, and support efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and forest degradation in Liberia.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in Whein Town outside Monrovia yesterday, FDA Managing Director Harrison S. Karnwea said, the FDA is fully committed to pursuing the policy of transparent and accountable leadership.
He said the FDA will continue to foster collective ownership of the forest resource through open dialogues where the interest of all their partners and other stakeholders are protected and secured during his tenure at the FDA.
Mr. Karnwea said the agreement that was signed on September 23, 2014 in New York, will enable Liberia to place thirty percent or more of her forest estate under protected area status before 2020.
He said this is something they have been unable to do, due to the lack of capacity building in relevant institutions. The FDA boss said this will increase efforts aimed at enforcing the law, strengthen forest governance and avoid illegal and unsustainable logging.
Mr. Karnwea said the partnership is intended to facilitate green growth through the development of a deforestation free agricultural sector in the country and that Norway will support Liberia’s efforts with up to US$150 million until 2020 after the signing of this landmark partnership.
The FDA Managing Director said in the initial years of the partnership, up to US$ 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 US$ 15 million will be for direct budgetary support to the Government of Liberia (GOL), meaning phase one will total US$ 70 million.
He mentioned that in the period towards 2020, an additional US$ 80 million will be paid for verified reduced emissions while implementation of the partnership will be flexible and adapted to the challenging circumstances of Liberia. He said it will establish a public-private coalition with multilateral companies committed to ambitious zero deforestation policies.
Mr. Karnwea said, “To this effect we can leverage our membership with the Tropical Forest Alliance, refrain from issuing any new logging concessions until all concessions have been reviewed by an independent body to ensure compliance with the laws, build sawmills as stated by law and employ competent Liberians as required by law”.
He asserted that 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.
Mr. Karnwea said the third phase of the agreement will be initiated in January 2015 and will include strategy development and multi-stakeholder participation incapacity building of key institutions, civil society and communities as well as legal reform and law enforcement.
He concluded that they have an unwavering commitment to work with all of Liberia’s partners including the Liberian Timber Association (LTA), Civil Society; the forest dependent Communities and other partners who have stake in the proper management of Liberia’s forest resource.