- As it presents a voluntary national review to the UN
(New York, July 17, 2022). On Friday, July 15, 2022, the government of the Republic of Liberia gave the UN its second Voluntary National Review (VNR) of how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were being met.
The Voluntary National Review is a process through which countries assess and present national progress made in implementing the 2030 Agenda—achieving the seventeen (17) Sustainable Development Goals and the pledge to leave no one behind.
Presenting the VNR, Deputy Minister for Economic Management at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Hon. Augustus J. Flomo reported on the status of implementation of eleven of the seventeen SDGs which are priorities for Liberia, including Goals 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), 13 (Climate Change), 15 (Life on Land), 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) and 17 (Implementation Mechanisms and Partnership for Goals).
Minister Flomo said that Liberia is still making great strides in putting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) into action. He said that progress has been made in many areas, such as ensuring good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, access to clean water and sanitation, and improving industry innovation and infrastructure.
Providing more details, Minister Flomo spoke of a reduction in maternal mortality rates and the prevalence of malaria and tuberculosis; achieving gender parity in school enrollment at all levels of education; increased passing rates in the regional West African exams; as well as increased access to improved water sources and toilets.
“Liberia has made remarkable progress in lowering maternal mortality by 31%, from 1,072 per 100,000 births in 2013 to 742 per 100,000 births in 2020….Liberia increased its regional West African exam passing rate from 38.8 percent in 2018 to 76.2 percent in 2020.The country also achieved gender parity in gross and net enrollment across all levels of education in 2020… Access to improved water sources in Liberia increased from 68 percent in 2007 to 84 percent in 2019-2020.Additionally, the country increased access to improved toilet facilities from 28 percent in 2007 to 47 percent in 2020. ” Minister Flomo expanded.
Liberia’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) also includes reports of progress on improving infrastructure development, especially roads, and notes that “sixty-seven percent of rural Liberians live in areas not more than 1.2 miles from all-weather roads.” The VNR also talks about better internet services and availability, more people using the internet, and better access to information and press freedom laws and policies.
On Goal 17—Implementation Mechanisms and Partnership Goals, Deputy Minister Flomo says while Liberia continues to promote partnership as the means of mobilizing and maximizing the resources required to implement the SDGs, the government has developed a successful domestic resource mobilization strategy. “Liberia has developed a Domestic Resource Mobilization Strategy aimed at funding the Pro-Poor agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and putting up national frontline defenses to meet external shocks and emergencies. In the last three periods, FY 2019/20, 2020/21, and July-December 2021, domestic revenue’s share of budget resources averaged almost 86 percent”.
Even though there has been progress, Liberia’s VNR says that a lot more needs to be done to reach all of the SDGs by 2030. It lists the problems that need to be fixed, such as entrenched inequalities in access to development opportunities and basic social services, widespread infrastructure deficits, and widespread poverty, as well as the COVID-19 crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has put more pressure on the global economy.
Deputy Minister Flomo assured us that the government of Liberia remains committed and will continue to work towards fully implementing the SDGs—setting new targets in response to current realities, shifting opportunities, and reallocating resources as necessary.
The VNR process, according to Deputy Minister Flomo, was participatory, involving the private sector, academia, development partners, the United Nations, government institutions, civil society organizations, women, youths, religious groups, and children.
Liberia was among forty-four United Nations Member States that presented Voluntary National Reviews during the High-level Segment of the High-Level Political Forum, which convened in New York under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council from July 11–15, 2022.
Liberia’s delegation to the High-Level Political Forum was headed by Deputy Minister for Economic Management at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Hon. Augustus Flomo, and included Hon. Wiliametta E. Saydee-Tarr, Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection; Assistant Minister for Development Planning, Benedict Kolubah; Amb. Dintowon Pay-Bayee, Chairperson/Executive Director of the National Commission on Disabilities; and Mr. Haven Yarl, Technical Staff at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
As part of the events of the High-Level Political Forum, Minister Flomo also addressed the Ministerial Roundtable discussions on Thursday, July 14, 2022, on the theme “Accelerating Achievement of the SDGs by 2030: Addressing ongoing crises and overcoming challenges”.
Amongst others, Minister Flomo called on the forum to identify the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and how the United Nations can help countries to respond. He also asked the United Nations to come up with and give urgent help to countries that depend on imports to keep development projects going while dealing with problems caused by both crises.
On the margins of the HLPF, the Liberian delegation participated in ‘Africa Day at the HLPF’, organized by the African Union in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP). The delegation also participated in side-events organized by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Ghana, and other organizations, and held several bilateral meetings, including meetings with the Ugandan and Bangladeshi delegations.
The High-Level Political Forum concluded with the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration, which focused on the theme of this year’s HLPF: “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.