By Grace Q. Bryant
The Cycle Liberia in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting a two-day workshop in presenting Youth Environmental and Climate Action (YECA) Summit-2021 in Monrovia.
The program which kicked off yesterday brought together government officials, students and institutions including journalists under the theme; ‘Awakening the consciousness of young people on the Environment and Climate issues.’
The Executive Director and CEO of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Wilson K. Tarpeh, disclosed that the EPA has enormous challenges in the areas of environment and climate change.
According to him, the EPA continues to work with all relevant stakeholders to protect and manage the environment and at the same time help to strengthen the country’s resilience in the fight against climate change.
He added that over the years, the EPA continues to raise awareness about environmental and climate change in all national institutions with the establishment of focal points; conduct workshops in various thematic issues such as climate change, biodiversity, Ozone depleting substances, green economy and overseeing and preparing national reports in fulfillment of some of Liberia’s obligations to the Multilateral Environmental Agreements that Liberia is a signatory to.
“Over the years, we continue to address series of environmental and climate challenges. Prominent among these challenges are waste, destruction of wetlands, and pollution of water bodies mainly due to artisanal mining and dumping of biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials mainly plastic materials in our water bodies, killing of wildlife especially those threatened and endemic animal species,” he further explained.
“Accordingly, for climate change we have documented the erratic weather pattern characterized with early, prolong and late rains, slight increase in temperature, frequent tropical storms and gradual increase in sea level rise therefore all these hazards are heavily impacting all sectors of the population,” the EPA boss stated.
Meanwhile, the EPA CEO noted that the youths are the most vulnerable groups in Liberia which constitute 63% of the total population of the country and that out of the 63%, Liberia Youth Fragility Assessment reported that 25% of them are between the ages of 15-34.
Prof. Tarpeh emphasized that Liberia’s National Youth Policy shows that the youths constitute more than a third of the total population and nearly half of the labor force in Liberia.
He maintained that the labor force participation rate for the age 15-35 which constitutes over a third of the total labor force of 1, 6777,000 according to LISGIS 2011, is substantially lower than the national average of 63.5 while the literacy rate of Liberian youths also constitutes 54.47%.
“With the above stated from the demographic profile of Liberian Youths, it is challenging for our young people to grow and develop in the society of ours with enormous challenges especially protecting and managing the environment and fighting climate change,” Director Tarpeh concluded.
At the same time, the Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP, Violet Baffour, cautioned the ability of youths to be productive and economically viable; thereby explaining that the youths of Liberia have hopes and dreams that can only be realized in a clean, safe and peaceful environment.
“If the aspirations of this youthful generation must be fulfilled, we will need to make concrete efforts to support the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) by empowering all members of society, including the youths, to actively pursue and engage in climate action, including through education, training, public awareness and innovation exploring how to contribute to the circular economy by deeply interrogating how to turn waste to wealth,” she added.
According to her, the UNDP is working with the government and citizens of Liberia to help reduce the impacts of climate change on the environment. “We are committed to supporting young people to take action to protect the future of our planet,” Madam Baffour stated.
“We support youths’ engagement and dialogues, which provide youths the platform to present their ideas and advocate for change,” she maintained.
Meanwhile, the UNDP implements the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme, which provides funding for projects on mitigation or adaptation to climate change proposed by youth organizations or non-governmental organizations that work with youths.
Cycle Liberia, EPA Conduct Youth Summit 2021 Workshop
By Grace Q. Bryant