Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations says while the country’s youthful population can easily be a liability and disincentive for economic growth, government considers this segment of society an asset and an opportunity to yield demographic dividends given the application of the right investments.
“As youth unemployment remains a larger area of concern, the National Policy on Technical Vocational Education and Training launched on May 26, 2015, highlights the nation’s focus and is a roadmap to addressing youth unemployment through the promotion of vocational training and education with much emphasis on private sector engagement,” he said.
According to a dispatch from New York, Ambassador Lewis Garseedah Brown, II, made the statement when he addressed the 3rd Committee of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly on social development, including questions relating to the world social situation; youth, ageing, disabled persons and the families; as well as literacy for life: shaping future agendas.
He indicated that Liberia, like most countries on the continent, has a youthful population with close to 80 percent below the age of 35 and a growth rate of 2.1 percent, buttressed by a high fertility rate of 5.8 percent.
Providing some insight about government’s development agenda, Ambassador Brown, stressed that in January 2016, Liberia launched the Agenda 2030, and set into motion the processes to align the country’s development agenda, Liberia Rising: Vision 2030, an 18-year Plan inclusively developed to transform the country. “We seek this alignment through inclusive consultations to domesticate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and engender national ownership of its implementation.
He noted that Liberia recognized the importance of meeting all the goals of the SDGs; however, the country has taken an incremental approach to its implementation in favor of a more sustainable and inclusive process.
“This is why we have designed a robust review mechanism to enhance the effective implementation of eight prioritized areas to include: SDGs-3, health; SDGs-4, education; SDGs-5, gender equality; SDGs-6, clean water and sanitation; SDGs-9 infrastructure; SDGs-13, climate change; SDGs-16, peaceful societies; and SDGs-17, global partnership,” Ambassador Brown said.
Highlighting the rising state of unemployment in the country, the Liberian Permanent Representative to the United Nations told the Assembly that the Decent Work Law and the National Employment Policy of 2009 seek to address the enhancement of employability through the reform of vocational training programs in order to give special attention to marketable skills, identify structural inequality in the labor market and to meaningfully address issues of discrimination, income inequality and wage disparity. “It also contains appropriate complaint procedures, adequate remedies and sanctions, as well as provides protection for women in the formal and informal sectors,” he said, noting that this reinforces government’s belief that gainful employment is one of the surest ways to alleviate poverty.
Ambassador Brown noted that despite government’s commitment to implement the Agenda for Transformation, a five-year slice of Liberia Rising: Vision 2030 and the interlinked SDGs, uncertain economic trends in the global market due to plummeted prices of the main exports – iron ore and rubber – have presented challenges to the means of implementation.
However, he noted that all was not lost, as government has embarked on decentralization initiatives intended to shift the dominance of the political and social structure from its historically-restricted center and has begun to enhance the delivery of basic social services and empowering local communities across Liberia.
“In its recovery efforts, we face many challenges; however, ours is a country rising. We are determined to improve on gains we continue to make with the support and assistance of our citizens and partners, and will continue to build the needed synergies for inclusive sustainable growth while staying true to the guiding principle of ‘Leaving No One Behind’,” Amb. Brown assured.