The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Liberia has begun taking steps to address land degradation in the country.
One of the steps includes the vetting, validation and endorsement of the country’s Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Report (LDNTSR).
The LDNTSR, which was developed by a national consultant hired by the Liberian Government was vetted, validated and endorsed on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 in Monrovia by institutions involved in issues related to sustainable land management, forestry, the environment, biodiversity conservation, climate change and agriculture.
In September 2015, the global community agreed on ‘the 2030 agenda for sustainable development’, including 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and 169 targets.
Goal 15 urges countries to ‘protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reserve land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
More specifically, target 15.3 aims to combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world by 2030, Berexford Jallah, National Focal Point on United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) said.
In October 2015, the 12th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 12) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) agreed to integrate the SDGs and related targets into the implementation of the convention and decided that striving to achieve SDG target 15. 3 is a strong vehicle for driving implementation of the UNCCD.
In other to enable the UNCCD to make a significant contribution to achieving LDN, the COP decided to invite Parties to formulate voluntary targets to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) and explore options on how to integrate the voluntary LDN targets in their national action plans (NAP) as part of their overall discussion on the implementation of the SDG.
By June 2018, 117 countries have committed to set voluntary LDN targets with the support of the LDN Target Setting Program (LDN TSP, or the Program) spearheaded by Global Mechanism (GM), the UNCCD Secretariat and the support of 17 international partners, including the GEF Secretariat and IUCN.
Liberia got involved and started participating in the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Program after submitting a formal letter of interest at COP 13, held in Inner Mogolia, China.
As a signatory to the UNCCD, Liberia is committed to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and has domesticated ten SDGs including SDG 15.3
Speaking at the start of the national validation workshop in Monrovia on Wednesday, EPA Executive Director, Dr. Nathaniel T. Blama Sr. said the Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Program is a process that draws from the SDGs of which Liberia is a party.
According to him, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf served on the high level panel that chaired the African Committee that developed the SDGs.
He disclosed that some of the targets seek to revert land degradation across the world.
Dr. Blama noted that Africa is one of the areas where there is an issue of increased land degradation and land loss and stressed the need for “us to look at our national circumstances and come-up with appropriate measure that can fight to avert or avoid land loss”.
Touching on the recent landslide in Tappita, Nimba County, where over 40 miners were killed, Dr. Blama explained that the environmental footprint of artisanal and small scale miners combined is huge on the environment and is one of the drivers of land degradation.
The EPA Boss also noted that “our unsustainable farming practices are also a contributing to land degradation and called on the collective efforts of stakeholders in the sustainable land management sector to come-up with appropriate actions that will help halt or reserve land degradation or land loss in Liberia.