Liberia: Landesa, Partners Rally Support for Inclusive Climate Action and Land Rights

Monrovia — Landesa, a global advocate for land rights and women’s empowerment, in collaboration with the Rights and Rice Foundation, has commenced a groundbreaking conference titled “Land Rights for Inclusive Climate Action and Sustainable Development” in Monrovia.

Held at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex and supported by the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the conference aims to tackle the crucial intersection of land rights, climate change, and sustainable development in Liberia.

Explaining the conference’s objectives, Everlyne Nairesiae emphasized the pressing need for climate action within the framework of land rights, striving for a sustainable and inclusive approach to land formalization. Nairesiae highlighted that as Liberia faces the repercussions of climate change, the conference outcomes could chart a course towards a resilient and climate-smart land tenure system, serving as a model for other African nations confronting similar challenges.

Immediate outcomes targeted include a comprehensive report on conference proceedings, a data profile of attendees, and the drafting of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Landesa and partnering organizations. Long-term objectives involve integrating climate measures into the formalization process, establishing a climate change thematic group, securing commitments from international partners, and establishing a timeline for reviewing pertinent laws.

In 2018, Liberia made significant strides with the passage of the Land Rights Act (LRA), granting secure land tenure to approximately two-thirds of its population. The act bestowed ownership rights to rural communities over their ancestral customary lands for the first time in the nation’s history. However, challenges persist, particularly in integrating climate adaptation and mitigation into the land formalization process.

The conference, scheduled to conclude today, focuses on enlightening stakeholders about climate change and exploring the integration of climate adaptation and mitigation into land formalization processes.

Representative Nyan Flomo (CPP, District #2, Nimba County), speaking on behalf of the House of Representatives, commended the organizers for convening what he termed a problem-solving conference. Rep. Flomo highlighted Liberia’s ongoing struggle against climate change, citing limited funding and resources as significant hurdles. He pledged the 55th Legislature’s full support to ensure swift action on resolutions adopted at the conference.

The conference has drawn stakeholders and policymakers, including Josephine Nkrumah, ECOWAS Permanent Representative to Liberia, who lauded the event as pivotal for the West African continent. Nkrumah urged organizers to ensure women’s robust participation in deliberations, pledging ECOWAS’ unwavering support for the initiative.

Landesa, a pivotal figure in supporting communities through the formalization process, has identified a crucial gap in integrating climate adaptation and mitigation. Loretta Pope Kai, chairperson of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia welcomed the conference, emphasizing the need for women to benefit from Liberia’s progressive land rights laws. She advocated for rural women to receive title deeds, asserting their primary role as land users. “Land is power and land is security, and we must ensure that women are protected in the customary land formalization process,” she stated.

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