Initiating collaboration, the Government of Liberia through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) for the construction of green eco-villages in Liberia through its Ecovillage Development Program.
The deployment of ecovillages in Liberia is intended to work with communities that face severe ecological challenges. The program will assist the government in achieving sustainable development goals considering the vulnerable groups such as women and children, youth, elders and most importantly, people with disabilities. This project will also bring to reality the ecotourism strategy developed by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).
Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) has been developing a transformative model for regeneration by using an integrated, community-led approach to transition communities to resilience and restore their environments for the past 20 years.
The Ecovillage Development Program is designed to radically reform current development practices, putting communities, sustainability, and wealth creation at the heart of the development process. Recent studies show that financial support for community-led development is more efficient than conventional, top-down interventions. The full and inclusive participation of communities on the ground in the conception and implementation of activities, together with the sharing and transferring of expertise and grounded experience is fundamental to GEN’s work.
Against the background, the program is also intended to create wealth and employment opportunities, halt environmental degradation, and provide communities with the knowledge, skills and tools to guarantee their future. Ecovillages weave together the social, cultural, ecological and economic dimensions of sustainability and pioneer innovative solutions that enable villages, regions and nation-states to fulfill the promise of the SDGs and Paris Climate Agreement.
Signing the agreement at the venue of the just ended United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 25) in Madrid, Spain, Dr. Nathaniel T. Blama Sr. Executive Director/CEO on behalf of the Republic of Liberia-EPA; and Kosha Anja Joubert, Executive Director, on behalf of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN); both parties agreed to put communities at the center of the development processes.
For his part, the EPA Executive Director mentioned that the program will focus on communities that want to regenerate their natural environments, preserve cultural heritage, increase social resilience and improve livelihoods become powerful agents of change. He further disclosed that “the Ecovillage Development Program for Liberia will bring together local, community-owned development, with a transformative region or nationwide change”.
Dr. Blame echoed that the Environmental Protection Agency, “being a statutory body established under the Act creating the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia, is responsible for monitoring, coordinating and supervisory authority for the sustainable management of the environment in partnership with regulated ministries and organizations”. Speaking further, he said that the agency is also in a close and responsive relationship with the people of Liberia; and to provide high-quality information and advice on the state of the environment and for matters importance.
GEN Executive Director Madam Kosha Anja Joubert in closing divulged, there will be a baseline study for Ecovillage Development for Liberia to be completed. “This will be followed by an in-country visit of GEN Consultants to Liberia. The visit is intended to conduct a short Ecovillage Introduction/Ecovillage conference, Training of Trainers, including design exercises to Pilot Villages; collaboration towards the development of funding proposals to support further collaboration with GEN and GEN Africa and implementation of Ecovillage Programme”.
She thanked EPA boss for initiating the meeting that led to the signing of the MoU and looks forward to better and fruitful collaboration.