By Millicent Senava Mannah
In a significant move towards shaping the future development landscape of Sierra Leone, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Seraphine Wakana, successfully concluded a pivotal national consultation meeting on February 2, 2024. The event, held at the De Wizzard Conference Hall in Bo City, brought together key stakeholders, including representatives from the Ministry of Planning and Development, Minister of State South, Paramount Chiefs, officials of Local councils, civil society organizations (CSOs), and Heads of UN agencies.
The purpose of the gathering was to gather diverse perspectives for the formulation of the next United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework. Addressing the audience, Seraphine Wakana emphasized the need for collaborative efforts, stating, “We cannot do it alone; we need your ideas and perspectives for the Development of our next United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework.”
The Resident Coordinator highlighted the significance of the occasion, considering it a turning point for the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone. She disclosed that similar consultations had taken place in Makeni, with another scheduled for Freetown. Recognizing the importance of inclusivity, Wakana emphasized the vulnerability of women, particularly those who serve as the breadwinners of their families.
“As we convene today, let us all remember that our goal is not merely to contribute to drafting a document but to articulate our shared aspirations,” Wakana asserted. She stressed that the next cooperation framework would be a living testament to the commitment to progress, equity, and sustainable development.
In light of global economic challenges and geopolitical risks affecting the country’s financial situation, Wakana underlined the necessity of sustainability in development interventions. She expressed the belief that the cooperation framework must reflect a commitment to environmental sustainability and conservation of natural resources.
The success of the cooperation framework, according to Wakana, hinges on effective collaboration among the Government, the UN, the public and private sectors, and civil society. She called for an environment where innovation, entrepreneurship, and responsible business practices thrive, emphasizing the need for collective strength for the benefit of Sierra Leone.
She disclosed plans to craft a transparent and accountable coordination structure during the development of the next cooperation framework. Regular consultations and feedback mechanisms, including a joint steering committee chaired by the Ministry of Planning and Development and the UN, will ensure the framework’s dynamic nature.
Closing her remarks, Wakana urged the audience to engage in meaningful deliberations, respect diverse viewpoints, and work collectively towards national priorities, serving as catalysts for positive change.
The Mayor of Makeni City, Abubakarr Kamara, and the Minister of State South, Mohamed E.K Alie, commended the UN for their transformative work. Both stressed the importance of collective efforts in achieving the 2030 goals and holistic development. The Ministry of Planning and Development representative expressed gratitude for the alignment of UN projects with national plans.