Keynote Statement at the SDG Summit in Gompa City, Nimbi County; January 12, 2020; by Hon. Younquoi

I am honored to be selected by the conveners of this first impact Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to serve as the Keynote Speaker. I so doing, let me hope that my brief statement will serve as a motivation that would energize you participants of the Summit to vigorously and intelligently participate from an informed position.

For selecting our County as the host of this summit, the conveners of this summit should be appreciated for allowing our County to play such a strategic role. There are fourteen other counties that could have seen selected to serve in this capacity, yet you chose Nimba. For this, we remain grateful; we hope you will enjoy your stay.

I am particularly excited to be a part of this historic moment as issues of population in general and young people in particular are something I have devoted my entire professional and political life to over the years. As a population Scientist, I posses special passion for this summit became it is in line with all that I have stood for all these year, even as I serve as a Lawmaker.

II. The Evolution of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 What are the SDGs?

As we go through this summit, one would be tempted to ask: what are SDGs?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a bold universal agreement to end poverty in all its dimensions and craft an equal, just and secure world – for people, planet and prosperity by 2030.

The 17 SDGs and 169 targets are a part of transforming our world:                                                           It has the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by 193 Member States at the historic UN General Assembly Summit in September 2015 and came into effect on January 1, 2016.

The SDGs was been developed through an unprecedented consultative process that brought national governments and millions of citizens from across the globe together to negotiate and adopt the ambitious agenda.  

Having set stage, permit me to provide a little historicity of how the goals came about.

Since the end of the Second World War, the world has always found means to improve the quality of life of its people. It began shifting its attention to world population from mere numbers to quality of life indicators. For instance, prior to the launch of the SDGs, there was the Millennium Development (MDGs) adopted by the UN General Assembly, which came to an end in 2015.Therefore, the SDGs was launched to serve as a successor to the MDGs. The MDGs, itself succeeded the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which was held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994. The world recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the ICPD in Nairobi, Kenya during which heads states and governments; youth and gender advocates; Lawmakers and right advocates converged to gauge progress made in the implementation of its deliverables. Your humble servant was among about 150 Lawmakers from around the world that attended to provide the Legislative perspectives to the global efforts.

III. It must be stated here that the main goals of these three global Paradigms are centered around the improvement of life of women, girls, youth in general, minority groups, disabled, etc. Whenever there was a shift from one paradigm to another, there was a refinement of goals. As you go through this summit with the hope of you being able to establish a local Summit Conference and eventually become greater and more influential leaders, let me provide you a list of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

1.     End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2.     End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

3.     Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

4.     Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

5.     Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

6.     Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7.     Ensure access to affordable reliable sustainable and modern energy for all

8.     Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

9.     Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

10. Reduce inequality within and among Countries

11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources    for sustainable development

15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forest, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies and sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

The seventeen goals can be summarized into 5 Ps; namely People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace & Partnership.

 a).People – End poverty and hunger in all forms and ensure dignity and equality.

b). Planet – Project our planets natural resources and climate for future      generation.

c). Prosperity – Ensure prosperous and fulfilling life in harmony with nature.

d). Peace – Foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

e). Partnership – Implement the agenda through a solid partnership

IV. What is Liberia Doing with Regards to SDGs?

In compliance with the mandate of SDGs, Liberia is taking appropriate actions in meeting nearly all these goals despite the harsh economic realities. For example the country has passed a number of laws to respond to gender equality and women empowerment. A few of such Law include the Domestic Violence Law; Rape Law; the law amending the Gender Ministry law; ratification and domestication on crucial women related Laws, protocols, etc.

The Country has also taken steps to strengthen its educational and health systems to conform to the dictates of the SDGs. Notwithstanding these effects, are still more to be desired. For instance, the percentages of the national budget allocated to Health and Education in the country are for the optimum threshold set by the international communication. They both stand at less than 15%, whereby the optimum should be, at least 25%. Even worst are allocation to Agriculture which is far below.

Recommendation

Considering the importance of the SDGs to national development, I am pleased to make the following recommendations:

1.     Young people should hold their elected officials responsible to ensure that the resources of the country are judiciously used for the benefit of the population.

2.     The Liberian people should change their way of voting people into offices by selecting the best candidate (i.e. candidates with the right message) and not necessarily individuals with more money and other resources, such as rice; bags of cement; bundles of zinc, etc, to share.

3.     The Legislature should align budgetary allotment with programs and activities that are geared towards meeting the SDGs.

THANK YOU