Liberia’s Ports “Going Green” Towards Environmental Sustainability

Published on
January 9, 2014

Two of ENP’s core theoretical concepts and perspectives; Ecological Modernisation (EM) and Political Modernisation and Policy Arrangements (PM), have been used by Harry Barnes-Dabban, PhD candidate within the ENP group to support the institutional transformation of Liberia’s National Port Authority (NPA) towards an environment-induced one through a “Going Green” initiative.

Liberia is transitioning from war-torn into a stable democracy. The transition process has brought in its wake a number of governance challenges for state institutions as the country begins to feel the pressure from the demand on its natural and infrastructural resources. NPA is using its role as a gateway to the Liberian economy to a maximum to support Liberia’s transition for its own growth as well as the growth of the Liberian economy. It is transforming into a landlord port through increasing private sector participation in port operations to promote efficiency and economic competitiveness. Environmental impacts cannot be ignored in this process.

Using EM and PM perspectives, Harry worked with the NPA between February and October 2013 to establish an environment department that would ensure that port activities are carried out in complementarity with environmental considerations. In strengthening this role, a collaborative partnership was established between the NPA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to replace the institutionalised top-down and sectorial approach to environmental governance. This has brought about a changing role of the state in environmental management of Liberia’s ports. The NPA and private port economic actors are now taking up environmental roles with new initiatives and contributions. Adjoining living communities are also getting involved. The collaborative partnership was marked with a two-day port stakeholders’ national workshop jointly organized by the NPA and EPA with the theme “Going Green: NPA Collaborating Towards Environmental Sustainability”. This was followed with the inauguration of a port environment forum aimed as a platform for promoting dialogue and information exchange among stakeholders on port environmental protection. The occasion was graced by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land, Energy and Environment, who congratulated the NPA for such historic initiative and expressed the senate’s interest and support in sustaining it. The forum deliberated on and adopted a draft port environmental policy and management strategy.

From this going-green initiative, a number of achievements are already noticeable. Some of these include, the enforcement of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for all port development projects, inclusion of environmental conditions in lease agreements, NPA’s active participation in national environmental meetings and programmes as well as public hearings and reviews organized by the EPA on environmental impact studies for port related projects, NPA’s participation in environmental committee meetings of the regional port management association, investment in environmental training and capacity building, cooperation and commitment among port tenants and concessionaires to environmental protection and good governance, decentralized port environmental governance with stakeholder participation including living communities, port waste separation, replacing asbestos in the ports, and environmental awareness programmes.