LBDI President Delaney: Liberia’s future is green
By Naneka A. Hoffman
The President of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) Mr. Deo Delaney says a recent Climate Week in New York City confirmed Liberia’s future is green.
Speaking during the two weeks Climate Week events in New York City, Mr. Delaney said he is more confident than ever in his plan to build a climate finance program at Liberia’s only development finance institution, the LBDI.
The two weeks’ events were held on the margins of the United Nations 77th General Assembly, which included speeches, panel discussions, roundtable meetings and several receptions.
Mr. Delaney notes that whether the topic was as focused as carbon capture or as broad as the state of the global economy, global food security crisis or global health, one topic was a consistent sidebar to all those conversations, adding that climate resilience, extension, climate and finance.
He explained that this is significant for Liberia, stressing “We own the largest share of West Africa’s Upper Guinean rainforest; this is an unprecedented opportunity for us.”
The Upper Guinean rainforest stretches from Guinea through Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo and ends in Benin.
Last month, Mr. Delaney was named co-chair for Creative Financing & Bonds Issuance for Liberia’s Carbon Consultative Group of the National Climate Change Steering Committee.
In this role, the Government of Liberia (GOL) has charged him with developing a framework for issuance of bonds against Liberia’s forest assets that meet international governance policy, and environmental and social standards.
In partnership with the Forestry Development Authority, Mr. Delaney will also take stock of the blue carbon sources and lead on developing partnerships with local and international partners to lay the groundwork for carbon markets in Liberia.
The LBDI President notes that this provides the bank an opportunity to drive economic development in Liberia at scale in a way that is innovative, imaginative and technical yet practical and feasible.
He says LBDI can raise capital from investors outside of the country while shoring up support from the government in the form of grants and loans.
Mr. Delaney says he has begun to seek the expertise of consultants to advise LBDI, as the bank plans to build its capacity.
He notes that it will be a step-by-step project, but it is important to build a foundation that is sturdy and sustainable.
For his part, the Board Chair of Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority Mr. Harrison S. Karnwea, Sr., described climate finance as critical to Liberia’s economic future.
He emphasized that the country has one of the largest areas per capita of protected tropical rain forests in the West African sub-region, “But how is the country and the average Liberian benefitting from these restrictions we have placed on deforestation, hunting and other activities that harm the precious biodiversity.”
Mr. Karnwea: “I’m calling on world leaders to prioritize Liberia and recognize how we are contributing climate resilience in a way that benefits Liberia for generations.”
Mr. Delaney revealed that he has begun conversations with other Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) as well as Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and aid agencies based in Liberia and around the world to secure support for the project.
The LBDI President says he has established connections with a range of people that he engaged to facilitate his work with the National Climate Steering Committee.
“I’m particularly excited about partnerships that will involve our young people in climate resilience efforts and exploring ways our climate finance programs can help spur economic inclusion that targets unbanked young entrepreneurs like keh keh and pen pen drivers.”
He added that there is an international project that he is engaging called the Climate Youth Negotiators Programme that trains youth in decision making and around climate and equips them to participate in global conversations and negotiations on climate.
The conference was graced in New York City by Mr. Deo Delaney and Mrs. Marie Claire Graf, Co-Founder of the Switzerland-based Youth Negotiators programme.
The Liberian Bank for Development & Investment (LBDI) is Liberia’s largest and only development finance institution created by an Act of the National Legislature in 1961.
Since 1988, it has also acted as a commercial bank.
The bank was established by the Liberian government and several foreign development companies to help develop the financial infrastructure in Liberia.
It is predominantly a privately owned institution under private management and a Board of Directors elected annually by its shareholders.
The bank commenced operations in 1965 as the Liberian Bank for Industrial Development and Investment. However, under an amendment in 1974, the name was changed to the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment. Editing by Jonathan Browne