Monrovia, 8 July 2015 – More than 200 participants, including roughly 80 women and 26 representatives of local authorities, recently gathered in Monrovia to witness the launch of the National Urban Policy process for Liberia.
The launch took place during the first National Urban Forum (NUF) for Liberia. Before launching the policy for Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf stated in her opening statement that the policy shall be geared towards addressing urban issues such as governance, housing and building in wetlands, environment degradation, sea level rise and flooding , access to infrastructure and services particularly health and education.
The President called upon urban dwellers in Monrovia and other cities to ‘keep the environment clean’. She further reiterated the commitment of the Government of Liberia to pursue the de-concentration of services to make other cities attractive to live. Currently, 1.3 million of the total 2.1 million urban population in Liberia live in Monrovia.
Clare Short, Senior Policy Advisor at Cities Alliance, stated that there is now mounting evidence that no country can achieve middle income status without urbanization. “Those who think that urbanization is a threat are wrong” she said.
Working together for better urbanization
While presenting and introducing the Monrovia City Program, funded by Cities Alliance and its partners, Ms. Short encouraged all local authorities to work together and with urban poor communities for better urbanization in Liberia. In his keynote address, Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, said: “In order to advance in the formulation of a national urban policy, it is important to have the support of all.” He further stated that urbanization is not a self-evident process.
Using various examples, he demonstrated how if well managed, urbanization can create wealth and jobs, especially for youth and women, by increasing the value of urban properties and the number of buildable plots within the city. He concluded that a national urban policy can and should serve as a means to create and redistribute wealth by setting good and simple standards for rules, regulation, planning and financial design.
A resolution for harnessing the benefits of urban development
Morris Dukuly, Minister for Internal Affairs, inducted the National Habitat Steering Committee, which is composed of government ministries, civil society, academics and UN-Habitat. The Forum also endorsed the National Habitat Report for Liberia which will be issued to the Habitat III Secretariat as part of the preparation for the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in 2016.
After two days of deliberations, participants adopted the Liberia National Urban Forum Resolution with a particular focus on harnessing the benefit of urbanization for the development of Liberia. The 2015 National Urban Forum was funded by Cities Alliance and UN-Habitat and hosted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Liberia. Other key partners were the Monrovia City Corporation and the Land Commission.