July 6, 2021

The National Relevance of the MRV of REDD+ in Liberia

by Isaac Nyaneyon Kannah Teah : REDD+ Implementation Unit — Forestry development Authority — Liberia

The 6.6 million hectares of Liberian Forests contribute hugely to the Liberian economy and are important for cultural, medicinal and ecosystem services and as well as our climate. They also play a critical role in our plans to achieve our larger NDC target. Liberia is working diligently to leverage the conservation and sustainable management of our forests for the valuable ecosystem services which they provide (e.g., fresh water, biodiversity, temperature regulation, countless cultural services, and much more).

But importantly, our forests can unlock significant financial resources in the form of carbon finance. A strong domestic Climate MRV system is the key to Liberia harnessing both our forests full potential and to achieve our larger NDC targets and REDD+ results-based payments.

The birth of the Warsaw framework for REDD+ in November 2013, gave many developing countries, including Liberia, the opportunity to financially benefit from forest conservation and management through the REDD+ initiative. Forest conservation and its sustainable management is considered one of the most cost-effective methods of reducing GHG emissions and improving resilience to the harmful effects of climate change. Countries’ efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation and sustainable management of the forests are essential to REDD+. This is because while REDD+ also includes enhancing forest carbon stock in degraded landscapes through afforestation and reforestation activities — the REDD+ impacts from reversing deforestation and forest degradation are much more immediate and cost effective than afforestation activities.

The Paris Agreement (Article 5) recognizes this fact and encourages forested countries to take part in the REDD+ program. This supports REDD+ methodologies to become a force for harvesting carbon benefits. Specifically, “results-based finance” is the key to REDD+ helping to limit warming below the 2°C target of the Paris Agreement. Results-based finance refers to not only payment for achieving measurable carbon/emission reduction targets, but also incentives for policy outputs and other management achievements.

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In order for Liberia to benefit from REDD+ achievements, and the potential for Results Based Payments, we must develop and operationalize a durable and transparent Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system for our REDD+ program. There are many opportunities for Liberia to leverage the forest resources in country to benefit from carbon finance, all however, require a system that measures, reports and verifies actions and achievements.

Liberia has embarked on REDD+ program through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) in 2012 with the signing of a major grant agreement of more than US$ 3.5 million. This was followed by a letter of intent for the Liberia Forest Sector Project (LFSP) signed between Liberia and the Kingdom of Norway in tone of US$ 150 million with US$ 70 million for capacity building and direct budgetary support to the Government of Liberia and US$ 80 million reserved for result-based payment. This allows the Country to initiate and complete Phase I of REDD+ implementation and enabling Liberia to define and implement a system across multiple institutions and jurisdictions that monitors and reports on emissions and GHG emission reductions. In addition, a Forest Reference Emissions Level was prepared. This has been submitted, reviewed and verified by an Assessment Team of the UNFCCC secretariat.

Liberia’s MRV system enables us to firstly understand the extent of our carbon emissions and removals and to inform discussion on what policy and measures could address these emissions. In the long run, Liberia’s MRV system will give the country the ability to evaluate the level of impact our efforts have made in addressing climate change and emission reductions. In the medium term, the national MRV system enables Liberia to account for its NDC and REDD+ program in order to benefit from result-based payments. The MRV accounting permits Liberia to know where the Country is heading in term of setting emissions reduction targets.

In addition, the MRV system will report and account based on information collected using sound scientific methods that are repeatable and transparent. Information shared with the international community are facts and not assumptions, providing a realistic and bankable account of Liberia’s emissions.

For example, the Forestry Development Authority of Liberia submitted its FREL through the Environmental Protection Agency as per the domestic MRV institutional arrangements for REDD+. More specifically, these institutional arrangements establish what roles each institution plays in term of Measurement, Reporting and Verification, both for the REDD+ program and the NDC. Then, the FREL was submitted to the UNFCCC, with a view to reporting on emissions and in the future emissions reductions for the two REDD+ landscapes and reported annual emissions of 31 MtCO2eq and 10.7 MtCO2eq for the Northwest and Southeast priority landscapes respectively. This is a baseline and a realistic historical emission profile for these landscapes in Liberia. Now, going forward our MRV system will continue to track emissions and sustainable management policies in these landscapes for possible results-based payments.

At the same time, the MRV accounting will allow Liberia to understand their performance in terms of achieving commitments under the NDC process and the contribution from the REDD+ initiative. This fosters transparency in reporting and meeting national commitments and more importantly enables policymakers to understand Liberia’s GHG emission trends. The MRV system is critical to informing future policy and enabling Liberia to benefit from results from both REDD+ result-based payment and NDC commitment achievements.

The role of Liberia’s MRV system is key to understanding national GHG emission trends for both policymakers in decision-making and climate scientists to predict impacts and efforts for GHG emission reductions

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Isaac Nyaneyon Kannah Teah is an experienced Climate MRV specialist working with the Liberia’s REDD+ program and lead on the development of the Liberia’s FREL and National Forest Monitoring system. As part of his works, he provides training and capacity-building in the areas of GHG inventory, FREL/FRL development and National Forest Inventory. He is now training community dwellers on Community-based MRV and community forest management.

For more information about Liberia’s REDD+ programme, Isaac can be reached at inkteah@gmail.com

For more information about Liberia’s National Climate MRV Community of Practice initiative of the WA-MRV Programme, please contact the national coordinator Mr. Arthur R.M. Becker of the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) abecker@epa.gov.lr