It is an honor to be here today for the launch of Liberia’s national consultations in advance of the Stockholm +50 Global Meeting to be convened in June. 2022 is a year of important anniversaries for Liberia: 200 years since the arrival of the first Black Americans, 175 years since declaring independence, and 50 years since the first United Nations Conference on the Environment in
Why is this anniversary for Liberia? Because like the United States and more than 100 other countries, Liberia was present at that Stockholm meeting 50 years ago, with a four-person delegation led by Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Anthony Sayeh.
We know the risks of climate change for Liberia. As the World Bank has pointed out, Liberia is highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and highly vulnerable to environmental instability due to its extreme poverty and high dependence on “climate sensitive” sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and energy.
The heightened risks Liberia faces include coastal erosion and flooding due to more extreme and unpredictable rainfall. Indeed, ordinary Liberians are already experiencing these impacts during this exceptional dry season, which has severely limited the country’s hydro power generation, resulting in daily blackouts.
We congratulate Liberia for the ambition of its revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to fight the adverse effects climate change. Liberia’s impressive list of commitments will challenge all of us because the price is not cheap — nearly US $500 million — and Liberia alone will not be able to meet that cost. The international community will have to meet its own ambitious commitments and the United States has pledged to do the same.
We commend Liberia for adding three new sectors to its revised Nationally Determined Contributions: Fisheries, the Coastal Zone, and Industry. These are sectors of vital importance to Liberia’s future, and devoted effort will be needed to adapt to and mitigate climate threats to these and other sectors.
At COP26 in Glasgow, Liberia committed to meeting the universal goal of limiting the increase in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees centigrade by 2030. As our own government has acknowledged, that will require accelerated action by all of us. We are especially grateful that Liberia was an early signatory of the Global Methane Pledge, and we look forward to working with Liberia on that and other initiatives.
At COP26 President Weah spoke of Liberia’s ambition to be a leader in Africa on climate financing. As President Weah pointed out, Liberia is home to more than 43 percent of the Equatorial Guinea rainforest, which are, in his words, “a major part of the global lungs which make it possible for the industrial world to breathe.” We urge Liberia’s efforts to protect these forests while also finding ways for the Liberians who depend on the forests for their livelihoods to sustain them and prosper.
These are big challenges, and they are not made any easier to accomplish in the face of a global pandemic. One of the three leadership dialogues in Stockholm will focus on achieving a sustainable and inclusive recovery from COVID-19. It will be important for all of us to continue to work with Liberia to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while also helping Liberia accelerate its economic growth.
An important aspect of a sustainable recovery from COVID-19 is vaccination to prevent future infections. The United States has donated nearly 1.3 million doses of vaccine to Liberia, and together with donations from other countries, 23 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.
That is still far short of the 70 percent target for Africa set by WHO by the end of June 2022. We urge Liberia to continue to accelerate its vaccination efforts and we will continue to work with Liberia to accomplish that.
One of the themes of Stockholm +50 is mobilizing innovative and bold action by collaborating with business. We want to see free enterprise flourish in Liberia in a way that develops the vast talent of its people and sustains its rich environmental advantages — its beautiful landscapes, its exceptional biodiversity, and its abundant natural resources. But that will not happen if Liberia does not have aninclusive, transparent, and corruption-free political system.
We are pleased that Liberia has pledged for these upcoming consultations to be inclusive and meaningfully involve all stakeholders. We look forward to seeing what new action-oriented ideas are developed to bring to Stockholm.
Thank you for inviting me here today, and I will look forward to continuing to work with all of you.