MONROVIA-CSO Council boss Loretta Alethea Pope Kai On the heel of the rising need for carbon financing which took center stage at the start of a two-day Liberia Forest and Climate Resilient Forum, the Chairperson of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL), Madam Loretta Alethea Pope Kai said, there is a need for more consultations.

Though there are huge expectations of leveraging carbon payments for national and community developments, Madam Pope Kai suggests that stakeholders exercise patience with these climate financing processes with a clear mark on the best interest of communities who will pay the brunt of any error in decisions made. In previous years, the CSO Council Boss recalled that communities, which are the true owners of the forest, have been heavily disadvantaged, thus providing the need for concern and for more consultations. Giving specific reference to the logging sector, she explained that logging for timber has been an ongoing activity that has failed all possible checks and balances by authorities leading to unsustainable harvest and use of non-timber forest products and wildlife poaching, thus blurring the condition to call for more money in the name of carbon financing.

While testifying to the gains, efforts, and dividends, the CSO Council boss questioned the measure of those gains. “On the basis of the above complexity, I believe there is a need for more consultations.  I will suggest that we exercise patience with these climate financing processes with a clear mark on the best interest of communities who will pay the brunt of any error in decisions made,” Madam Pope Kai told the gathering. “Conservation and development are twin sisters. This obligates us to do better than all other efforts. We can only achieve the very common interest of all, including the global community when we apply genuine efforts, focus on tangible actions, and ensure that the resources that are accrued from this Nature–based Forest and Climate Resilience are not exposed to the very corruption our communities now endure. It is therefore prudent to focus on addressing the many challenges we have now and when we have reached a measure of acceptance, we can assess the climate and carbon financing discussions,” she furthered.

“For now, our collective focus has to be to ignite all energies and efforts on Livelihood, Education, diversifying economic activities within communities, and capacity building of rural dwellers to find alternatives to their daily activities looking deep into the future. For now, we must focus on implementing the existing laws, ensure that communities are positively impacted, and work in partnership to drive change through community-driven solutions to climate change while also holding the North, on the other hand, accountable to their own commitments to emission reductions,” she indicated.

In recognition of the Land Rights Act, Madam Pope Kai added that communities are the landowners, and as such, must be in charge of any programs that could support the adaptation is now more crucial than ever, and such also must be the case for any carbon financing. “But today, communities have not yet been informed about carbon financing. Where does the money come from? Who pays and for what? Under which conditions can they access it?  And how will they access this money – will there be legal provisions that obligate leaders in a fair way? Will women’s rights be recognized? Will money go to communities or stay mainly with middlemen and consultancies? The questions and many more are the main reasons for more consultations.

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