There was a lot of ado in the country when it was announced President Weah would not in person attend the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly ongoing in New York, United States of America. Critics had contended that the president’s absence would deny the nation of Liberia possible outcome from his usual charismatic engagements with world leaders. But the Government maintained amid that the raging pandemic, coupled with the fact that most other presidents were not attending in person, speaking at the Assembly virtually would not subtract anything from gains of Government. Finally, on Thursday, September 23, 2021, the Liberian leader delivered his nearly 12-minute speech and the message of hope, peace, recovery and development sounded quite forcefully in the halls of the United Nations. The Analyst reports.
Like hundreds of his colleagues, President George Manneh Weah took the podium, though virtually from Monrovia, to update the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and by large the wider world about progress being made by his administration in keeping the peace, improving livelihood, fight COVID-19 and poverty.
Drumming Up Climate Change Fight
The UNGA is hosting this year’s session, which is the 76th, on the theme, “Building resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalize the United Nations,” and world leaders have been debating this critical issue.
For President Weah, the year’s is a clarion call to all peoples of all nations, “that as we try to re-build our Covid-impeded economies, we must do so in a sustainable manner that will take due account of our environment, and have due regard for the fundamental human rights which are enshrined in the Charter of this noble institution”.
He said the theme also calls for a revitalization of the United Nations to make it more relevant and effective in the true fulfillment of its mandate in a changing world.
“This is a task that has been recognized as an imperative priority by successive previous leaders and members of the Organization in recent times,” President Weah told the General Assembly.
According to him, the theme for this year’s General Assembly highlights the necessity to respond to the needs of planet Earth, asserting that The reality of climate change facing our planet demands the urgent attention and collective action of all national and international actors.
We have all observed the extension of deserts and recurrent droughts in Eastern and Southern Africa; the increasing intensity and frequency of storms and floods in our region; the alarming rise in the levels of the world’s oceans due to the meltdown of the Arctic; and the frequency and size of forest fires that destroy thousands of acres of arable lands and properties. These conditions threaten our survival as inhabitants of this precious earth.
He “wholeheartedly” welcomed and applauded recent re-entry into the Paris Accord by the United States of America, “as we believe that this manifests and demonstrates the critical leadership needed to mobilize global coordinated action”.
President Weah bemoaned “we state actors, including those on my own continent who have faced the harshest extremes of weather and climate, have been guilty of window-dressing climate issues with rhetoric and passive declarations”.
He said Liberia humbly submits to this august body that now is the time for concerted and decisive action.
“Liberia, for its part,” Dr. Weah further intoned, “reaffirms our commitment to continue our good stewardship of our critical ecosystem of tropical rainforest, coastal mangroves and interior peatlands”.
“Our recently completed National Forest Inventory carried out with the support of the World Bank and the Kingdom of Norway, revealed that Liberia is endowed with nearly seven (7) million hectares of forest, representing nearly half of the entire remaining Upper Guinea forest in the West Africa region. If you add to this our 1.9 million hectares of agro-forestry and coastal mangroves, it becomes obvious that close to ninety (90%) percent of our landmass sequesters carbon.”
He reported to the UNGA that Liberia’s forests are the last remaining untouched tracts of forested land in this region and contain some of the highest above-ground carbon stocks of any forest in the world, even higher than the carbon stocks in the great Amazonian Forest.
“As one of the last reserves of such high carbon stocks,” President Weah said, “it is imperative that Liberia’s forests are maintained in the future. My government reiterates its commitment to do so.”
United Nations’ SDGs
Speaking further, President Weah recalled that six years ago, and true to the ideals and principles of its Charter, the United Nations General Assembly took a giant step forward to promote the economic and social advancement of all peoples, and to better their standards of living, when it adopted the landmark 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“This was meant to be a global plan of action; for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership; with the goal of eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions,” he said, adding: “However; since our transition to the Decade of Action for the implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals, the world has been engulfed by a global pandemic which has posed enormous strains on our capacity to implement the 2030 Agenda, and has even raised the possibility of reversing development gains.”
The Liberian Chief Executive told the UNGA that in order to build resilience through hope, “we must continue to emphasize the need for attention and support to vulnerable societies and developing countries; particularly, the Least Developed Countries. Sustainable recovery from the pandemic must be based on the principle of inclusiveness and solidarity; and within the context of leaving no one behind”.
He also reflected on commitments the world powers had made in addressing the needs of the Least Developed Countries, by contributing significantly to their recoveries. He said: “Support for the upcoming Fifth Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDC-5), to be held in Doha, Qatar in January 2022; and the new Program of Action for Least Developed Countries for the coming decade, will also provide the basis for sustainable recovery, and the timely implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Fighting COVID-19 Via PAPD
President Weah also briefed the world body on the global fight against the dreadful COVID-19 pandemic, expressing on behalf of the Government and People of the Republic of Liberia, his deep appreciation to all of Liberia’s bilateral, multilateral, development, regional, sub-regional, national and local partners; for their support in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and the assistance they continue to provide in our quest towards recovery.
“In response to the pandemic, my Government, in line with our National Development Plan, ‘The Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development’ (PADP), has developed a Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
He said the PAPD-driven pandemic-recovery plan aims to reduce the impact of the pandemic by providing the basis for economic recovery through short term actions, and investments in key sectors, including agriculture and tourism.
He asserted further: “Under the Economic Recovery Plan, the Liberian economy is already beginning to show signs of resurgence, and in spite of the negative impact of the coronavirus, projections for GDP growth is now positive, and is expected to reach four (4%) percent in the coming year.
Through the implementation of difficult macroeconomic reforms, my Government has been able to obtain a substantial increase in domestic revenue generation for the first time in more than a decade, and we are committed to broader economic and investment climate reforms.”
Speaking about Liberia’s Agriculture sector, President Weah told the world body that his Government is endeavoring to vigorously launch agricultural promotion projects, which will increase agricultural production through new entrepreneurship opportunities, innovations, and safe farming techniques.
“Moreover, conscious of the importance and impact of infrastructure on social and economic development, as enshrined in the PAPD, my Government has identified investment in roads; energy and ports as key priority areas,” he noted, reporting that Liberia’s economy needs to develop, and that his administration wants to do so sustainably.
“We want to continue to maintain our forest and ecosystem endowments, and our incredible bio-diversity, as we embrace climate-smart approaches to agriculture and mining, which are our economic mainstays,” the Liberian head of state said.