Hon. D. Zeogar Wilson, Minister of Youth and Sports
Hon. Stephen Rodriques, Resident Representative of the United Development Programme, Liberia
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Donors and other partners here present
Amos Williams, President, Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY)
Mohammed Gandhi Kamara, President, Liberian National Students Union (LINSU)
Representatives of Youth Delegation
Members of the Fourth Estate
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
I am happy to be here this morning to participate in the official opening of a two day youth Conference organized by the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme under the theme: Awakening the consciousness of Young People on the Environment and Climate Change. This Conference comes at the eve of the National Conference on Environment and Climate Change. Given the role youth plays in environmental and climate change, the EPA Management thought it wise to dedicate a two day conference exclusively for youth to meet and deliberate on one of the critical issues affecting humanity and the development of Liberian Youth, that is, environment and climate change. By doing so the EPA will be working with the youth in achieving, one of the rights, responsibilities and obligations of the National Youth Policy and Action Plan 2019-2023, that is, to protect, conserve and preserve the environment.
Liberia as you may know is endowed with numerous resources ranging from diverse plants and animal species, gold, diamond, rubber, timber, coffee, cocoa and many others. Physically, our 350 miles sandy coastal shores and enormous
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water resources are important for ecosystem services for economic development. 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. 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. All these hazards are heavily impacting all sectors of the population. However, one of the most vulnerable groups that is heavily impacted is the youth of Liberia which constitutes 63% of the total population of Liberia. Out of the 63%, Liberia Youth Fragility Assessment reported that between15-34 are 25%. Liberia’s National Youth Policy shows that the youth constitutes more than a third of the total population and nearly half of the labour force in Liberia. However, the labor force participation rate for the age 15-35 which constitute over a third of the total labor force of 1, 6777,000 according to LISGIS 2011, substantially lower than the national average of 63.5. Also the literacy rate of Liberian Youth constitutes 54.47%. With the above stated demographic profile of Liberian Youth, 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.
Despite these enormous challenges faced with the environmental and climate challenges, the Environmental Protection of Agency of Liberia continues to work with all relevant stakeholders to protect and manage our environment and at the same time helping to strengthen the country’s resilient in the fight against climate change. Over the years, the EPA continues to raise awareness about environmental and climate change in all our national institutions with the establishment of focal points, conducting series of workshops in various thematic issues such as climate change, biodiversity, ozone depleting substances, green economy and overseeing and preparing national reports in fulfilment of some of Liberia’s Obligations to the Multilateral Environmental Agreements that Liberia is a party to. The EPA also has a dedicated focal point on Youth and Climate Change in the person of Mr. Teddy P. Taylor. He is responsible to coordinate youth engagement with the EPA.
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Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
As you may know we have a government that is young people cantered. The ongoing revision process of the revised Climate Change Action Plan of the country often refer to as the Nationally Determined Contributions accounts for the inclusion and participation of young people in the revision of process. This was manifested by a declaration which is refer to as the Ganta Declaration Which called for youth involvement in the implementation of the NDC. One sector which is included in the process is the Green Corridor Sector of which UNDP is supporting. Once the NDC is completed, the Green Sector will provide a unique opportunity of formulating programs and projects in the promotion of youth involvement in working in various landscapes in planting trees, building green buildings and parks for recreation and other activities. This is going to be one of the hall marks of this administration in ensuring that the young people will be given the opportunity to perfect their ambitions or career development and at the same time working to address environmental and climate change issues in the country.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
May I remind you about the theme of this Conference that is, Awakening the consciousness of Young People on the Environment and Climate Change. One major step that the EPA, UNDP and UL did was to establish the undergraduate and graduate programmes in environmental science, biodiversity and climate change at the University of Liberia last year. We acknowledged the establishment of similar programmes in other tertiary institutions in the country. These programmes are intended to train the young people in protecting and managing the environment and addressing climate change in the country and at the same time environmental and climate students association are being established to provide a platform to raise consciousness among the student communities in managing and protecting the environment and addressing climate change for sustainable development. Thanks to all our partners in assisting the EPA to carry on its statutory mandate.
To the Youth in Particular,
I urge you to critically deliberate on issues that are within the Programme and go beyond if time will permit you. I do acknowledge that two days are not sufficient to adequately deliberate on the theme of this Conference, but I pray for your indulgence to use your time here wisely. I anxiously look forward to receive the outcome of this Conference which will form part of the proceedings of the forthcoming National Conference on Environment and Climate Change.
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I wish your successful deliberations.
I thank you all.