Tuesday, 26th January 2016
President Sirleaf Launches National Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
Photo Credit: Ousman Diallo /Executive Mansion
Monrovia, Liberia - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has challenged Liberians to engage in a national dialogue on how we can adapt the new global development agenda to our own national priorities.
Speaking at the Monrovia City Hall on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 when she officially launched the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development which sets the stage for the domestication and implementation of Agenda 2030 in the country over the next 15 years, the Liberian leader said development becomes a partnership between all layers of society; adding, “That’s why I am pleased today that we have the three branches of government, the private sector, the media, civil society organizations, development partners, religious and traditional leaders, youth and women organizations, workers unions and the disabled to launch this national dialogue on how to domesticate the Agenda 2030.”
She thanked the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honorable Alex Tyler for his commitment in pledging the National Legislature’s support to the process.
President Sirleaf, as Co-chair of the United Nations High Level Panel of Eminent Persons which set the vision and policy perimeters of the new development agenda and chair the African Union High Level Committee on Post-2015, reminded Liberians of the leading role the country played through her leadership in crafting this new framework.
She used the occasion to highlight the various global agreements that were negotiated over the last year or so including the Sustainable Development Goals, with its 17 goals; the Africa 2063 Agenda; the Addis Action Document for Financing Development and the Paris Climate Change Document.
“Now the question is how to adapt these to our national priorities? Who does what and with what? How do we measure our progress and how do we ensure that everyone is on board,” President Sirleaf questioned.
She said the official launch marks the beginning of a process to domesticate the new development agenda that will run for 15 years and will require the commitment and continuous action of all stakeholders. In Liberia, she noted, consultations were held that led to the development of the Agenda for Transformation and Vision 2030 and one of the great advantages of the new development agenda is that it goes beyond the old order of government and includes new actors, such as the media, the private sector and civil society organizations.
The Liberian leader said, though she will be away from the country, she looks forward to the outcome of the discussions as participants discuss the way forward. She is expected to leave the country shortly to attend the African Union Summit where she will present her final report as chair of the African Union High Level Committee on Post-2015.
Also making remarks at the National Launch, the director of Millennium Promise and member of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN) Leadership Council, Dr. Amadou Niang, representing the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and its director, Professor Jeffery Sachs, advanced three reasons why the SDGs, though very ambitious, is possible to be achieved in Liberia.
He cited a wide range of scientific knowledge, technologies and innovation available now but non-existent when the MDGs commenced; research institutions and universities will be involved from the beginning to help incorporate this scientific knowledge, innovation and technologies into the planning and implementation process; and instead of waiting to localize the SDGs from the national level, SDGs will be implemented through a bottom up approach using the decentralization system.
“At the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, we think that the problems facing development are not the gap of knowledge; it is the gap of utilization of knowledge,” he said adding, “Today a wide range of opportunities, information and communication technologies (ICTs), and innovative tools, approaches and methods that can be adapted and widely disseminated exist.”
He said in 2012, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the SDSN to mobilize global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical problem solving for sustainable development and today, there is a network of more than 300 global educational institutions working closely with governments and the United Nations system to share innovative solutions, best practices and the development of high-quality, free, educational content to help train up the next generation of sustainable development actors.
Dr. Niang invited all the universities in Liberia to partner with them in these endeavors, and asked the Government to invite other universities and the SDSN network, inot the SDGs domestication process.
He also called for a bottom-up approach and community engagement as the SDGs cannot be achieved if they are not owned by communities and local governments. “SDGs have to be articulated with community needs, aligned with decentralization processes and mainstreamed into the local development plans at district and county levels,” he said, adding, “We think that a bottom-up approach to SDGs can be undertaken while the national process is underway.”
For his part, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Mr. Amara Konneh, setting the platform of the implementation of the SDGs in Liberia, vowed that the Government of Liberia will no longer orphan the SDGs like the MDGs. “We will treat it as a part and parcel of our Nation Vision and our Agenda for Transformation, and prioritize key goals including SDGs – 3 (health), SDGs – 4 (education), SDGs – 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), and SDGs – 9 (infrastructure), and SDGs – 5 (gender equality), SDGs – 6 (clean water and sanitation), and SDGs – 17 (partnerships).”
He proposed that under the support of President Sirleaf and strong support from the National Legislature, the setting up of an Inter-Agency Task Force, to be led by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, to coordinate the domestication of the SDGs; and to monitor, evaluate and report on progress and impact and ensure that significant progress is seen as much in the rural areas, as in the urban centers.
Minister Konneh stressed that in order to make the SDGs interventions count, Government will also work to develop strong, timely, and reliable statistics with LISGIS, and work domestically with partners to mobilize resources needed to implement our SDGs. He said crucially, we will need our partners’ intervention to provide substantial and predictable long term grant financing for education and health, and long term concessional financing for infrastructure, ensuring that no resource gaps remain that would hamper the country’s development efforts.
“Fortunately,” Minister Konneh stressed, “this is not our first development agenda. Since 2008, Liberia has developed and implemented a Poverty Reduction Strategy and an Agenda for Transformation. We have been through economic crisis and come out of it wiser and stronger. We have all of the benefits of hindsight, and we will bring that to bear on our SDGs strategy and lead the charge to helping Liberia become the best version of herself.”
Also making remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honorable Alex Tyler expressed appreciation to all for the launch, implementation and conclusion of the MDGs. These goals, he said, were significant to Liberia and other nations of the world and have helped to advance useful considerations in planning and implementing our national policies. However, he said, the MDGs did not look at the consultative factors that led to the conditions it sought to alleviate or remove in order to design eliminating strategies.
Nevertheless, Liberia stands proud to have been a beneficiary of the MDGs and a direct party to the designs of new strategies by cropping the SDGs and their subsequent adoption.
He said the 17 pillars which the SDGs was crafted has taken into account solutions to consulting factors of social, economic and political problems that effect third world nations and some developed nation.
Speaker Tyler said as national policy makers must attack in details the root causes continuing the SDGs and root causes for the lack of development and industrialization in our nation. He urged Liberians to look at the peculiarity of the country and develop our specific targets.
He also urged that youth and students are prioritized and mobilize in the process since they constitute about 63 percent of our population.
The opening ceremony, which also included remarks from the Resident Coordinator of the UN Country team in Liberia, Mr. Antonio Vigilante; Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Liberia, Mr. Farid Zarid, continued with presentations from the UN Country Team on SDGs looking at Key Steps in Mainstreaming and Domesticating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning discussing Mainstreaming the Agenda 2030 in Liberia’s National Development Agenda.
The national launch continues today with brief presentations from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Union High Level Committee Secretariat, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Liberia Revenue Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
The national launch is hosted under the auspices of the Government of Liberia in partnership with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN-SDSN), private philanthropist Dr. Betsee Parker, United Nations Country Team, Save the Children International, and other partners.
On September 25, 2015, the 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted a new global development agenda entitled “Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development”. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set a framework for ending poverty, narrowing inequalities, and protecting our planet of the next 15 years beginning January 2016. The new global development agenda contains 17 goals with 169 targets and provides concrete measures to address the myriad of economic, social and environment issues confronting the world today. It was created through global consultations, in which all stakeholders and every nation contributed to its formulation.