Monrovia, 14 February 2017 – The critical contributions a National Urban Policy could bring to safeguard Liberia’s sustainable urbanization was deliberated during two workshops in the country’s capital city Monrovia.

Co-organized with Cities Alliance and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Liberia, the two workshops enabled discussion on the important contributions that an inclusive National Urban Policy process could make to the country’s pursuit of overall sustainable development. It drew over fifty stakeholders including representatives from government ministries and public departments, local authorities, NGOs, civil societies, as well as community leaders and planning professionals.

The interactive training discussed the National Urban Policy process, its relevance to global planning principles and Liberia’s national development plan Vision 2030. International experience and practices on the development of NUP were shared, followed by country-specific findings on key areas of improvement. Furthermore, the policy dialogue analysed existing sectorial policies with suggestions on how they could form into synergistic combination.

The session on rapid assessment of NUP and participatory issue mapping pointed out key challenges including overall low education attainment, unbalanced national development, high unemployment rate, large dependent and slum population. Additional social and environmental issues such as high land privatization rate, institutional segregation and coastal erosion have further aggravated socio-economic predicament and ecological degradation. In a consensus process, participants recognized the pressing need for an enabling policy framework at national level and effective means of implementation, and elaborated on the four drivers to consider from technical, economic, legal and operational aspects while developing the NUP for Liberia.

UN-Habitat’s contribution to Liberia’s national development began in 2014 through advisory, technical and capacity building services. In 2015, the National Urban Forum on National Urban Policy was held in Monrovia, followed by the launch by President Johnson-Sirleaf of the National Urban Policy process for Liberia. The country also played an active role in the epoch-making Habitat III Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development which took place in Quito in October 2016 and adopted the New Urban Agenda.

The findings from this workshop will feed to the finalization of the first feasibility stage of the National Urban Policy process, through which an overarching urbanization policy at national level will be created to enable urbanization as a powerhouse to unleash the development potential of Liberia.