Main page content

Liberia: Climate Change Adaptation Offers Peacebuilding Plan


Liberia began putting together its NAPs process in 2015, in alignment with the NAP technical guidelines produced by the Least Developed Country (LDC) Expert Group in 2012. To support this, the $2.2 million grant from the GCF aims to improve the government on four areas:

  1. Strengthen institutional frameworks and coordination for climate change adaptation programming;
  2. Expand the knowledge base for increasing adaptation efforts, which includes economic impact studies and climate risk assessments on energy, waste management, forestry, and health;
  3. Improve the ability to integrate climate adaptation into planning and budgeting, which experts say is ambitious because it involves developing criteria to assess adaptation benefits for public investments; and
  4. Create mechanisms for scaling up adaptation investments and addressing financial gaps by improving adaptation investment plans by sector or geographic area.
The NAPA process has given Liberia a reference point for what kind of projects work well, but also for where gaps remain and how to begin responding to them.

Planning processes develop the knowledge of national climate vulnerabilities and costs, which is valuable for efficiently allocating further investment from funds like the GEF and GCF, as well as from bilateral donors and domestic resources. The NAPA process has given Liberia a reference point for what kind of projects work well, the coastal defense system for example, but also for where gaps remain and how to begin responding to them with their NAP. These plans are important for developing coherent and proactive responses that may reduce climate change’s ability to act as a “multiplier” of existing threats to social stability.

Liberia’s NAP will also be a learning experience. “If you have a good NAPs process, in about two years’ time you should have a much clearer idea of your priorities,” Rohini Kohli, Lead Technical Specialist for National Adaptation Plans at UNDP, told me. “You have to look at what you are already doing, gather evidence and learn from this, and see in some kind of systematic way which priorities should be scaled up, and if so, where and how.”

For countries that did not develop a NAPA process, precedent for successful adaptation projects may be lacking. But LDCs, through a NAPA and vulnerability and risk assessments, have established these frameworks. “They’re patchy and small scale, but it’s there,” Kohli continued.

While a NAPA process is not a requirement in order to request GCF support for adaptation projects, many low-income countries do not want ad hoc adaptation. They want a strategy and with it the technical support of the UN’s economists and planners to improve their domestic resilience building capacity. This, however, also involves promoting connections among different government ministries.

The EPA of Liberia, which after 2003 was tasked with “supporting the connection between good environmental governance and peace,” has been responsible for adaptation planning. This is typical, as environmental ministries are usually responsible for driving NAP processes. According to Kholi, however, finance and planning ministries must become much more involved because long-term adaptation requires sustained financing and feedback between ground-level projects and national economic and infrastructure planning. Climate action is not only an environmental issue – it’s an issue of sustainable development for sustainable peace.

As Per Thöresson, Vice-Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission noted to the Security Council in his December 2, 2016, report, the exit of UN peacekeepers from Liberia should be followed by “residual peacebuilding tasks” and the maintenance of international attention. “An immediate task is to ensure that the remaining UN presence is set up and resourced to respond to the continuous need for peacebuilding support,” Thöresson continued, encouraging the whole UN system to “intensify collaborative strategic planning.”

The threat to development gains posed by climate change means that plans like the NAPA and NAP should be considered beyond the immediate reduction of climate change impacts. Research conducted by ISS in Mozambique during 2015 identified the value of a broad cross-section of peacebuilding plans and processes that look beyond short-term needs and involve sustained international support.

Recognizing these lessons and the risks posed by climate change, implementation of Liberia’s NAP with cooperation from climate finance institutions offers an opportunity to plan and create an environment for sustainable peace.

Interested in more info on environment, conflict and cooperation? Sign up for our quaterly newsletter here.

Jonathan Rozenis a research associate in the Peace Operations and Peacebuilding Division of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria.



1. Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Credits: UNDP/ [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

2. UN Peacekeeper on Duty in Liberia. Credits: United Nations Photo/ [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]