Liberia
Information
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Member State
  • Name: Liberia
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Commitments (10 hits),

Full Submission

What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio+20 and what are the concrete proposals in this regard, including views for the structure of the outcome document? The Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 resulted in several key Commitments adopted in the Agenda 21 plan of action aimed at achieving sustainable development goals. In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) led to the Commitments contained in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI). Additional Commitments for sustainable development include the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 (PFIA21), the Paris Declaration, and the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA). These Commitments contain concrete mechanisms for ensuring sustainable development objectives are achieved at the national, regional, and international levels. Unfortunately, objectives and plans contained in these documents have not been fully realized. There are gaps in implementation that require renewed political Commitments as well as innovative implementation mechanisms. Additionally, new and emerging challenges such as the global economic crisis, climate change biodiversity and ecosystem loss, and water scarcity continue to impede efforts at integration of sustainable development into national development agendas. In 2012, twenty years after the first Earth Summit, the global community will once again converge in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to regain momentum for the way forward in renewing the sustainable development agenda. Liberia fully supports the position of the African Region as agreed upon during the African Regional Preparatory Meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from October 20 ¡V 25, 2011.

Liberia is dedicated to economic growth that will significantly reduce disparities and facilitate the eradication of poverty. Liberia encourages the Rio+20 conference to result in Commitments with measurable results that will support achievement of this goal. The outcome document should provide an assessment of the status of Commitments from the original Earth Summit and ways in which previously unachieved goals may be reintegrated going forward. Rio+20 should take decisive action to advance implementation of new sustainable development goals Liberia strongly supports the goal of Rio+20: securing renewed political commitment for sustainable development. Achievement of this goal will depend on the extent to which Rio+20 can develop realistic outcomes and Commitments that enshrined in the principles of Rio, specifically, outcomes that are based on common but differentiated responsibilities.

b. What are the comments, if any, on existing proposals: e.g., a green economy roadmap, framework for action, sustainable development goals, a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, or others?

The Rio+20 conferences are an important milestone in the ongoing efforts for sustainable development. The conference provides a unique opportunity for participating countries, major groups, and others to craft a framework for future plans that builds on past accomplishments while capitalizing on emerging opportunities for sustainable development. Liberia is supportive of proposals that are sensitive to the varying stages of development of each country and designed to ensure long term sustained economic growth that integrates sustainable development principles.

A Green Economy Roadmap

The transition to a green economy should be nationally driven process with goals and objectives that address the needs of the Liberian people. Liberia supports the position that the Global 10-Year Framework of Programmes to promote sustainable consumption and production is a mechanism that can be utilized during Rio+20 to support transition to green economy and provide financial and technical support to developing countries for the transition.

c. What are the views on implementation and how to close the implementation gap, which relevant actors are envisaged as being involved (Government, specific Major Groups, UN System, IFIs, etc)? Liberia is committed to the Rio principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. We call on the private sector to renew commitment to sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. Liberia believes that the work of some of its current private sector actors could serve as models for sustainable development and looks forward to being able to showcase these examples in future. Liberia is committed to macro-economic policies that will enable us to meet current development needs without causing undue environmental harm. Liberia acknowledges that while there are economic and social indicators measuring progress, environmental indicators remain nonexistent. Liberia calls for the development of environmental indicators that measures the implementation of action plans and the successfulness of national environmental strategies.

Implementation is several hampered by new and emerging challenges, including the global financial crisis, climate change, and an uncertain political climate. Further, implementation remains difficult for developing countries due to lack of institutional capacity and poor coordination among government ministries and agencies, leading to a lack of integration of the three pillars of sustainable development. Policies at the local, national, regional, and international level geared toward increasing the presence of sustainable development in national visioning and development plans should be enhanced. Targeted interventions are essential for successful implementation of sustainable development goals. Developing countries need support for research and development, including existing technological innovations currently utilized by developed countries. The UN should support the additional allocation of resources for increasing research grants and technological advances in developing countries.

Liberia supports implementation mechanisms spearheaded by government institutions that are inclusive of women, civil society, local communities and indigenous people. In developing countries like Liberia, this will entail promotion of institutional changes, capacity building, public outreach, and the advancement of technology. Additionally, the harmonization of the development agenda, integration of national goals with sustainable development goals, is necessary. Liberia also believes that the private sector could present a driving force for sustainable development by carrying out business in more responsible ways and demonstrating best practice for corporate social responsibility. This would include but is not exclusive to protecting natural resources and ecosystem services such as water, soils and climate, building the capacity of local populations to participate in this work, raising standards for environmental management and climate security, driving innovation for green jobs and green industry Rio+20 should develop tangible targets that require cooperation between national governments and regional economic bodies, with support from international partners. Enhanced coordination of implementation mechanisms will yield improved outcomes. Resources allocated to African countries, within the aid effectiveness framework of the Paris Declaration, should be made available to developing countries without the limiting constraints that tend to impede implementation. The success of sustainable development goals in developing countries is heavily dependent on new and additional sources of financial and technical support from developing countries to enable the transition to a green economy.

d. What specific cooperation mechanism, partnership arrangement, or other implementation tools are envisaged and what is the relevant time frame for the proposed decisions to be reached and actions to be implemented?

Rio+20 should emphasize the need for continued financial and technical support for developing countries. Increased south-south cooperation has provided additional engines for growth and enhanced multilateral relations for Africa. However, sustainable development requires the cooperation of the global community, particularly as it relates to capacity building and technology transfer. North-south economic agreements should be enhanced to spur renewed multilateral relations and provide new opportunities for African countries. Liberia understands the essential role of the private sector in sustainable economic growth. Liberia has an investment climate that promotes private sector involvement. Renewed commitment to social responsibility by the private sector, transparency, and a collaborative environment will lead to more sustainable outcomes. Liberia supports the establishment of a World Environment Organization (WEO). Such an organization would take the lead in ensuring environmental sustainability is mainstreamed into development agendas. It would also facilitate increased support for environmental sustainable goals. Liberia supports the view that a WEO should be based in Africa as an acknowledgement of the important role Africa has in the global community.

Specific Elements

a. Objective of the Conference: To secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges. Contributions could include possible sectoral priorities (e.g., (e.g., energy, food security and sustainable agriculture, technology transfer, water, oceans, sustainable urbanization, sustainable consumption and production, natural disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation, biodiversity, etc.) and sectoral initiatives that contribute to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development could be launched and endorsed at Rio+20.

Liberia is extremely vulnerable to environmental degradation. In the area of climate change adaptation, Liberia metrological monitoring network was completely destroyed during the civil crisis. Restoration of this service is essential to climate monitoring and therefore adaptation Liberia is a post-conflict country currently undergoing national elections, which will solidify lasting peace and stability of the country. Due to the civil conflict, Liberia has been one the poorest performing countries in Africa and in particularly in the sub-region in development indicators, including GDP and the United Nations Human Development Indicator (HDI). However, over the past five years, Liberia has made steady gains in those areas, beginning with the successful implementation of the country¡¦s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). By early 2011, Liberia had successfully met 80% of the PRS deliverables and has made significant gains in economic and social development. One limitation of the PRS was the absence of an environmental pillar and lack of environmental indicators. Liberia is currently developing the PRS II, a medium term development strategy aimed at building on the success of the original PRS, while refining deliverables to make them applicable to Liberia¡¦s current situation and inclusive of the three pillars of sustainable development. Liberia has also developed its long-term visioning plan ¡§Liberia Rising 2030¡¨ which seeks to make Liberia a middle income country by 2030.

Liberia¡¦s economic indicators have shown marked improvement. Liberia Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth averaged 7.2 percent from 2005-2009, well above the global average of 3.4 percent, and the sub-regional average of 5.5 percent. Liberia has instituted public financial management reforms aimed at maximizing tax collection and revenue generation for the Government of Liberia. At the same time, Liberia has worked to create an attractive investment climate, actively seeking opportunities for foreign investments and providing incentives for private investment in the country. As a result, Direct Foreign Investment has increased in the country¡¦s mining sector, agricultural production, and corporate investment in offshore exploration of oil. A significant achievement for Liberia has been the alleviation of the country¡¦s external debt. Liberia has successfully completed the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) program and had $4.6 billion of its debt burden forgiven.

Although Liberia¡¦s economic outlook has improved, this has not resulted in significant improvement of the standard of living for Liberians. Liberia lags behind much of Africa in achieving Millennium Development Goal 6 ¡V eradication of poverty. Challenges with high unemployment rates and citizens living in abject poverty persist. Sustainable economic development remains a challenge primarily because of heavy reliance on natural resources as the main source of GDP for the country. Diversification of the economy is essential if Liberia is to develop in an economically sustainable way.

Liberia reaffirms its commitment to find innovative sources of financing for economic and social development. Liberia looks for Rio+20 to renew financial support from Annex I countries for facilitation of sustainable development and poverty reduction goals. Liberia further calls for direct accessibility of donor funding as a means of ensuring aid effectiveness. Workable monitoring and evaluation framework should be developed to assess the effectiveness of financial assistance. Liberia¡¦s social indicators have also improved over the past five years. Access to health care has improved as basic infrastructure and development of road networks has increased. Over 650 roads have been rehabilitated and 6 bridges have been built. Social health indicators have improved in meaningful ways. Accessibility of healthcare has facilities has improved although challenges still remain, particularly in remote rural areas. There has been an overall decrease health indicators such as in infant mortality rates, maternal mortality rates, and incidences of tropical disease. Liberia has allocated significant resources to improving health delivery and social welfare services. A county development fund has been established in each of the fifteen counties, allowing the counties to determine development agenda at the local level.

Poverty reduction remains a major challenge for Liberia. Economic growth in the country is steadily increasing, but appreciable gains in reducing inequalities and poverty are slow. Rural Liberian communities continue to experience the consequences of poverty including lack of access to healthcare, impassable road networks, and a general inadequacy of infrastructure. This challenge is experienced throughout the country. The capital city Monrovia is overburdened due to continued rural to urban migration. Availability of potable water has increased significantly, although access to water is still a challenge in some areas.

The exodus of educated Liberians (¡§the brain drain¡¨) due to the civil conflict continues to negatively impact economic and social development. The destruction of the education system due to the civil conflict has led to a shortage of qualified individuals in the country. These challenges contribute to the low technical capacity in the country and present a significant challenge for meeting sustainable development goals. Liberia and its international partners have committed substantial resources to capacity building. Liberia supports Education for All (EFA) and calls for renewed political commitment for capacity building and technology transfer. Liberia seeks commitment for increased support in improving educational institutions and development of science and technology. Rio+20 should produce a framework for capacity building and technology transfer to so that African countries are able to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development into its national development agendas.

Environmental Management in Liberia has improved with the promulgation of legislation in key sectors ¡V the National Forestry Reform Law of 2006, mining, and the Act creating the Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Protection and Management Law, both passed into law in 2002. The EPA has instituted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) structure that requires a review of all projects that may have a potentially negative impact on the environment. The New Forestry Development Law and Community Forestry Laws have slowed illegal logging in the country. Liberia has implemented community forestry laws, including implementation of the community right to know Act designed to include indigenous people and forest communities. While Liberia has made significant gains in terms of environmental management, the country is still hampered by environmentally destructive practices. This includes the widespread use of charcoal for fuel and the use of diesel fueled generators for energy needs. Additionally, continued illicit mining and illegal logging persists. Liberia faces a myriad of environmental challenges that have the potential to derail the nation¡¦s development initiatives and impact on its ability to achieve the MDGs. These challenges include:

?h tropical rain forest deforestation;

?h soil erosion;

?h loss of biodiversity;

?h coastal erosion and pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage

?h mangrove draining and reclamation in urban areas

?h sewage and solid waste disposal and management

?h a myriad of climate change related issues

Agriculture

Natural resource exploitation in agriculture as well as direct exploitation in the forestry and related sectors is the main source of income for Liberia¡¦s economy, which remains predominantly agrarian. Agriculture, including forestry, is critical to the economic development of Liberia and is the source of livelihood for 70 percent of the population. In addition to rubber exports, the economy is also historically dependent heavily on iron ore and foreign direct investment. Timber and rubber are Liberia¡¦s main export items since the end of the civil conflict.

Food production is a product of nature, and that sustainable agricultural production depends on maintaining healthy ecosystems. Ecosystems provide the very services that productive agriculture requires, such as healthy soils, consistent water flows, nutrient cycling, pest management, stable climate, disease regulation, wild relatives, and pollination, and overall risk management function. For Liberia to develop a strong agricultural sector, which provides not only food for its people but also cash crops for export - an important income source for rural communities - these services, and the landscapes and seascapes that provide them, must be conserved. The long-term sustainability of the agricultural sector is dependent on the ability to situate food production within sustainable landscapes and seascapes, pursuing an integrated approach to resource use based on ALL the values and services that healthy lands can deliver. This process involves promoting sound farm design principles, and the adoption of agricultural best management practices at a farm level.

Forestry

The degradation of natural resources - the loss of soil fertility, changing climatic conditions, depletion of fisheries, deforestation and other environmental changes - are contributing to the declining capacity of ecosystems to meet human needs, often resulting in deepening poverty and declining human security. Liberia is well endowed with significant forest resources. Forests have important ecological functions of soil and watershed protection as well as the economic value of the numerous products which can be extracted from the forest. In addition to cultural and spiritual values, forests provide livelihoods for forest-dependent peoples, who harvest edible and medicinal plants, wild meat, fruits, honey, shelter, firewood and many other goods. On a global scale, all forests play a crucial role in climate regulation and constitute one of the major carbon sinks on earth. However, forest degradation and deforestation are major challenges.

Rio Conventions

Liberia is currently undertaking to meet its obligations under the three Rio Conventions; the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the United Nations Convention on Desertification and Land Degradation (UNCDD). Liberia has developed draft legislation for Access and Benefit Sharing for Genetic Resources in accordance with the CBD. Although Liberia has made great strides in fulfilling the tasks required by the conventions, implementation remains hampered by a lack of capacity and technical ability. Biodiversity and ecosystem loss presents a major challenge for Liberia. Forest resources, including non-timber forest products, are a source of livelihoods for many Liberians. Liberia lags behind in developing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventories, environmental databases, and conducting other technical assessments required by the Rio conventions.

Liberia calls for renewed commitment for support to Africa to strengthen scientific knowledge and improve scientific programs to enable African countries to develop effective adaption measures. Liberia is in need of trained scientists and technicians to meet its obligations under the conventions. Rio+20 must secure additional support for UNCDD, which has received limited support in relation to the other Rio conventions.

Liberia is currently drafting its Second Poverty Reduction Strategy, which will more fully integrate the three pillars of sustainable development. Liberia is moving toward economic sustainability with renewed natural resource extraction and increased push for private sector development. As with other countries in the sub-region, Liberia has made some progress toward the integration of the economic and social sustainability pillars of sustainable development. However, integration of the environmental pillar has been a challenge. This is primarily due to the lack of financial resources and lack of technical capacity for implementation of sustainable development goals. As such, Liberia highly encourages initiatives that contribute to the integration of the three pillars.

Energy

Liberia¡¦s energy sector is heavily dependent on wood fuel and diesel fueled generators. The current use of forest resources is unsustainable and a transition to more sustainable forms of energy is a priority. Liberia is seeking mechanisms and opportunities for reducing dependence on diesel fueled generators for energy needs and reliance on charcoal for cooking needs. A change to the current unsustainable use of forest resources is essential for conserving natural resources and ecosystem services. Rio+20 should address mechanisms for developing countries to introduce alternative and appropriate methods for meeting the energy needs that are tailored to the current conditions in these countries.

Urbanization

Urban growth rate in Africa is 3.4 per cent, which strains limited resources and presents challenges for development. In Liberia, over 1.6 million people are concentrated in the capital city Monrovia and over 80 per cent of general population lives in urban areas. Urban development planning should be a priority at Rio+20, addressing sustainable economic growth that addresses infrastructure development, and delivery of basic services, including health and sanitation. Disaster preparedness

Natural disasters are occurring with more frequency and have far-reaching implications for the global community. The impacts of natural disasters are disproportionately felt by the poor and developing countries. Liberia is situated along the coastal belt, making the country vulnerable to floods. Flooding has caused severe damage, culminating in the forced relocation of coastal communities. Rio+20 should develop a global network for natural disaster risk management.

Rio+20 should also include means for addressing the risks of man-made disasters associated with economic development. The unintended consequences of oil exploration, particularly in developing countries with little experience with monitoring and disaster mitigation in the field should be addressed. Rio+20 should develop a framework for financial and technical assistance for disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk reduction of man-made disasters.

b. Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication: views regarding how green economy can be a means to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions, and poverty eradication; what is its potential added value; experience to date, including what has worked and how to build upon success, what are the challenges and opportunities and how to address the challenges and seize opportunities, and possible elements of an agreement in outcome document on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

Liberia recognizes the importance of a transition to a green economy in sustainable development. Liberia supports macroeconomic policies designed encourage a green economy. Liberia is concerned that a swift transition will have negative consequences for developing countries. Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs must be paramount in national development plans. Liberia supports the Bamako Declaration position that a green economy must consider the particular needs of Africa, should not be a precondition for implementation, and should not be used as a trade barrier to African goods and services.

Liberia fully supports the green economy theme of Rio+20. Liberia recognizes the importance of greening the economy, which leads to green jobs, green technologies, and more sustainable use of finite resources. Liberia has taken several step in this direction including supporting the development of a national REDD Readiness strategy with support from the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership facility and also the inclusion of Green economic development in the current draft of its Poverty reduction strategy with the goal of mainstreaming environment and climate change adaptation and mitigation within its development. While transition to a green economy is expedient, any outcome developed from this theme must take into account the varying stages of development for participating countries. The shift to a green economy must be gradual and contextual. The green economy agenda should not be used as a means of imposing trade barriers, undue tariffs, and difficult technological standards that disadvantages developing countries like Liberia. Additionally, requirements for a transition to a green economy should be a negotiating precondition or obstacle to receiving support from developed countries.

c. Institutional framework for sustainable development: Priorities and proposals for strengthening individual pillars of sustainable development, as well as those for strengthening integration of the three pillars, at multiple levels ¡V local, national, regional and international.

Structural reforms of governmental institutions are necessary to facilitate the integration of the three pillars. The capacity of government institutions to incorporate the three pillars of sustainable development into the national agenda has to be increased. The establishment of a National Sustainable Development Committee Liberia would ensure the integration of the three pillars.

Improved collaboration between government ministries and agencies charged with constructing and implementing development goals is essential. Strengthening the individual pillars of sustainable development will also require additional resources from international partners in providing expert technical assistance for integration. Improving institutional capacity to tackle development challenges will lead to better outcomes and more sustainable development strategies.

d. Any proposals for refinement of the two themes. Recall that Resolution 64/236 describes the focus of the Conference: ¡§The focus of the Conference will include the following themes to be discussed and refined during the preparatory process: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development¡¨.

Liberia currently has no proposal for refinement of the two themes, however Liberia is working with several other counties in Africa interested in supporting the development of these themes and welcomes opportunity for further discussion. Liberia reiterates that the two themes of the conference present a unique opportunity for tangible interventions to address pressing sustainable development goals, including the MDGs. Participants should utilize the opportunity to address the themes under the Rio principles.

Conclusion

Liberia is committed to a development plan that is nationally owned and integrates the three pillars of sustainable development, which is supported by international partners. Liberia urges Rio+20 to take decisive steps in advancing means of implementation and bridging the implementation gap. The Rio+20 conferences should lead to the development of a comprehensive framework, based on policy goals and an agreed set of indicators. Rio+20 should demonstrate Commitments to the two themes of the conference by formulating tangible goals for achieving sustainable development agenda. Rio+20 must result in secured Commitments from developed countries for support to Africa, which will enable African countries to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development into national agendas. Rio+20 must also recognize the unique challenges of sub-Saharan Africa in implementation and in meetings its obligations under the conventions that emerged from the Rio Summit.
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