His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway, who is also the Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has voiced his impression on the steps the Liberian Government is taking to respond to the multiple challenges facing the nation and its people in the aftermath of the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.
Despite His Royal Highness praising the government for trying to mitigate the challenges, he acknowledged that the country is facing dire economic circumstances, occasioned by the global slump in commodity prices coupled with the lingering consequences of the Ebola crisis.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, the UNDP Goodwill Ambassador stated, “Ebola took an unprecedented toll on human life and caused immense suffering of individuals, communities and households in Liberia. I commend the Government and its international partners for the role they played in bringing to halt the epidemic and in advancing recovery efforts.”
He made the remarks on Monday, April 3, at a cocktail reception held in his honor by the Liberian Government at the Foreign Ministry’s C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium.
The Norwegian Crown Prince also stated that he is visiting the country at a time of historic transitions – both at the political level and with respect to the impending withdrawal of the UN Peacekeeping Mission; adding, “These transitions offer an opportunity for Liberia to shape its destiny, to chart a path of long-term peace, security and sustainable development.”
His Royal Highness further informed the audience, which included government officials, members of the diplomatic and counselor corps and well-wishers, that since arriving on Sunday night, he has already met with a cross-section of Liberians, who are seeking to have their say and play their part in the positive future of Liberia. “The people of Liberia are a source for optimism at this crucial juncture,” he stressed.
Touching on his visit, he stated that as UNDP’s Goodwill Ambassador for the SDGs, with a particular focus on SDG number 1 (‘Ending Poverty Everywhere’), “A key objective of my visit to Liberia is to learn how UN programs—together with Government’s efforts—have contributed to Liberia’s development and to the implementation of the SDGs,” he said, further adding, “I am glad to see that the UN Country Team remains a valued partner to the Government and to the people of Liberia. The UN will continue its firm engagement here, working as one, to support Liberia in her efforts to reach the ambitious goals set forth. This is of particular importance now with UNMIL’s transition, where the UN Country Team will become the principal channel of UN development assistance in Liberia.”
Speaking earlier, Acting Foreign Minister, B. Elias Shoniyin said the Liberian government is pleased to note that the Crown Prince’s visit to Monrovia is intended for a firsthand feel of programs aimed at consolidating peace and the planning for and implementing the globally-agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Shoniyin applauded the UNDP Goodwill Ambassador’s personal contribution to global efforts aimed at ending poverty in all its forms, as he welcomed him and his delegation to Liberia on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Foreign Minister Marjon V. Kamara, who’s on an official international assignment.
Mr. Shoniyin also stated that while he acknowledged the Crown Prince’s goodwill, the government also celebrates the long and consistent relationship subsisting between Liberia and Norway, punctuated by cordiality and amity; adding, “Norway remains a significant partner in our development agenda.”
Liberia’s bilateral cooperation with the Kingdom of Norway primarily focuses on three key areas, including energy, security and carbon offsetting through deforestation.
“Few months ago in December of last year, we received in Monrovia for the second time, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, who had come to join the elated people of Liberia for the seminal inauguration of the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant,” Minister Shoniyin indicated and disclosed that the Kingdom of Norway is the largest donor to the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant Project and to date, may have committed more than US$75 million to the initiative.
On the role of UNDP, Mr. Shoniyin stressed that Liberia’s postwar development history can hardly be fully told without narrating the central role of the UN Agency.
“The UNDP family has journeyed with us through some very difficult times in our development drives, yet they keep on course,” he acknowledged and seized the opportunity to applaud the work of UNDP for its role in global development, particularly in Liberia. “We accept in good faith UNDP’s unwavering commitment to working with our Government and partners to ensure that the lives of our people are transformed for the better and that everyone should have a fair share in the nation’s resources, hence leaving no one behind,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Mr. Yacoub El Hillo, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) on Consolidation of Democratic Governance, thanked His Royal Highness for choosing Liberia from a very long list of nations that he would have chosen to visit.
“We believe your visit is a very good thing for Liberia, the UN and for Norway. Norway has been and is a very good friend of this great nation,” Mr. Hillo, who is also the UN Resident Coordinator, stated.