Liberia launches public-private cooperation to improve livelihoods and protect forests

MONROVIA: The Liberian government has announced the first steps in an ambitious plan to work with leading international companies to improve smallholder productivity and livelihoods, while conserving the country’s forests and growing its economy.

Today’s launch of a public-private cooperation will turn commitments made by commodity companies to improve their social and environmental track record into action.

To protect Liberia’s natural forests and improve agricultural productivity, Liberia and Norway signed a partnership agreement during the New York climate summit in September 2014. In support of this partnership, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative, is bringing together the Liberian authorities, leading international mining and palm oil companies and civil society, to develop new approaches for green inclusive economic development.

Liberia is therefore in an advantaged position to grow its economy while minimizing environmental harm. This requires addressing both production of commodities and the protection of forests. IDH leverages commitments of private palm oil and mining companies and aligns those with the power and knowledge of governments and civil society organizations.

IDH will be active in three landscapes in Liberia: a mining landscape in the north-east, and two palm oil growing areas in north-west and south-west Liberia. In collaboration with the Forest Development Agency and other public and private sector partners, IDH aims to improve smallholder productivity and livelihoods, while conserving the forest in these landscapes.

The companies committed to this process includes Sime Darby Plantation, Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) and ArcelorMittal. Both palm oil companies endorsed the New York declaration of Forest under the UN climate summit in September 2014, and have made international “non-deforestation” commitments.

Today’s launch is the first practical step under a cooperation agreement between Norway and IDH, made possible through a grant from Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI).

Over the next few months, contracts will be signed with the companies and partners in the landscapes to develop Production Protection Agreements. These agreements will mobilize investment in agricultural development coupled with investment in forest conservation, on the basis of Green Growth Plans in the 3 landscapes.