Building Capacity to Utilize Sustainable Development Principles in National Policy - Making in Liberia


DESA and UNDP are currently collaborating on the implementation of the Development Account project ROA-105 "Strengthening National Capacity for the Integration of Sustainable Development Principles into Development Strategies in Countries Emerging from Conflict" in Liberia. Liberia is a pilot country under this project.

Liberia is in a promising era of peace, encouraged by the collaboration of influential leaders, including representatives from both Government and civil society organizations. Among its successes in the past few years is the Lift Liberia program, a poverty reduction strategy (PRS) initiated in 2006 to guide sustainable development efforts. The program has been centered on a four-pillared approach that focused development on Consolidating Peace and Security, Revitalizing the Economy, Strengthening Governance and the Rule of Law, and Rehabilitating Infrastructure and Delivering Services. Lift Liberia has further guided the issues by considering five crosscutting frames of reference: Gender Equity; Environment; HIV and AIDS; Children and Youth; and Peacebuilding. Liberia's approach has been pioneering, as it fuses peacebuilding and sustainable development strategies and acknowledges that the two endeavors are mutually reinforcing. With Lift Liberia in its final year of implementation, Liberia is looking forward to the next medium-term development plan for Liberia, the upcoming second Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRSII) that is currently under development.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Division of Sustainable Development (UNDESA/DSD) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) are privileged to support Liberia's efforts to help conceive and shape their PRSII. UNDESA/DSD has produced a working draft of a practical document to support development planning in conflict-affected contexts: "Guidance Notes for Developing National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS) in Post-Conflict Countries". The Guidance Notes seek to help national policy makers and civil society leaders in identifying and building on real links between sustainable development and peacebuilding.

Accordingly, in Monrovia, Liberia UNDESA/DSD and UNDP sponsored a two-day workshop with to key stakeholders who are contributing to the design of the PRSII and other national development plans to share information on conflict-sensitive development principles which are described in the working draft of the Guidance Notes. Since the Guidance Notes are specifically meant to address complicated planning situations in conflict-affected contexts, the engaged parties saw that they prove useful for planners and policy makers in Liberia as they transition from the Lift Liberia PRS to the PRSII and longer-term national development strategies, such as the National Vision 2030.

The workshop brought together influential representatives from Liberia's government, civil society, academia, UNDESA/DSD and UNDP. It enabled them to interact and collectively identify the main entry points for conflict-sensitive development approaches in the current and new development strategies. Over the course of the workshop, the participants discussed key principles of conflict-sensitive development, and collective application of these principles in Liberian development. This exercise seeks to aid Liberian stakeholders as they determine how best to take advantage of existing peace dividends and to further peacebuilding through development in Liberia. This communication helps the stakeholders to envision informed action steps for Liberia's continuing path toward long-term, peaceful, sustainable development.


The stakeholder consultation workshop achieved the following predefined objectives:
  1. Introduce the Development Account project ROA-105 "Strengthening National Capacity for the Integration of Sustainable Development Principles into Development Strategies in Countries Emerging from Conflict" and Guidance Notes.
    • Discuss the project structure, objectives and the role of Liberia.
    • Share key NSDS principles and concepts.
    • Review the content of the Guidance Notes in connection with the ongoing development plans in the country.
  2. Scope Liberian development strategies of the past and present.
    • Discuss key development processes, sector initiatives and stakeholder experiences.
    • Considering Guidance Note principles, review achievements of current plans and define gaps in these strategies.
    • Define key challenges, limits and political economy dimensions of sustainability in the Liberian context.
    • Foster practical linkages between Liberia's development progress and peacebuilding.
  3. Develop action plans to achieve goals and address challenges in post-conflict NSDS in Liberia.
    • Identify conflict-sensitive development goals and challenges in Liberia.
    • Map and discuss current goals, challenges, action steps to address those challenges, and supporting logistics for action.
    • Conceptualize links between the Guidance Note principles and the ongoing PRSII.
    • Define guidance and support needs to achieve plan implementation.
  4. Overview of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 2012 (Rio +20).
    • Present Conference structure and objectives.
    • Outline preparatory meetings leading up to Conference.
    • Discuss Liberia's capacity, institutions, and main challenges related with implementing Green Economy initiatives.
    • Identify Liberia's opportunities, participation goals, and desired outcomes associated with Conference participation.
    • Review linkages between Rio+20, the NSDS Project and PRS.
  5. Facilitate networking between professionals with different types of expertise (e.g., policy, sector, development, geographically-specific conditions and needs).

Program Materials

The materials and presentations in the right box on top were used during the workshop and are available for public viewing.
United Nations