By Millicent Senava Mannah
The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Seraphine Wakana, has held a National consultation meeting with key stakeholders geared towards visioning for as well as deliberating on the development of their next United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework. This land breaking event took place on 31st January, 2024, at Wusum Hotel in Makeni city.
Representatives from the Ministry of Planning and Development, Paramount Chiefs, officials of Local Councils, CSOs and Heads of UN agencies were brought together to capture their unique perspectives that will enrich the content of the Cooperation Framework.
In her opening statement, the UN Resident Coordinator, Seraphine Wakana, pointed out that, having just participated in the launch of Sierra Leone’s Medium-Term National Development Plan, she is delighted to be part of such an epoch-making gathering as they embark on a journey of collective consultation and visioning for the development of the next United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework.
“This gathering signifies a pivotal moment for the United Nations, the government, and the people of Sierra Leone as we come together to shape the blueprint for UN development programs in Sierra Leone for the period 2025–2030,” she elatedly stated.
She disclosed that a similar consultation process will later take place in the week in Bo and another next week in Freetown.
According to her, their strength lies in their diversity, and the consultations will be a testament to their commitments to inclusivity.
“In acknowledging our diversity, we recognize the importance of ensuring that every voice, including those that are on the verge of being left behind, is heard and every perspective considered. Inclusivity is at the heart of our efforts,” Seraphine Wakana energized the participants.
She reminded them that all must ensure that the next cooperation framework should address the needs of all citizens, leaving no one behind, underscoring how their aim is to create an environment where every individual, regardless of background or circumstance, can contribute to and benefit from their collective growth.
“As we convene today, let us all remember that our goal is not merely to contribute to drafting of a document but to articulate our shared aspirations. The next cooperation framework is not going to be a static document; rather it will be a living testament to our commitment to progress, equity, and sustainable development,” the Resident Coordinator assured.
She further informed her audience that it will serve as a reference document that will serve as a guide through the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
The UN Resident Coordinator asserted that she recognizes that the global economic situation and geopolitical risks have put extreme pressure on the country’s financial situation, clouded by headwinds from monetary tightening, weak global trade, investment and rising debt vulnerabilities.
“That is why we believe sustainability in our development interventions, including financial sustainability, is not an option; it is a necessity. Our cooperation framework must also reflect our commitment to environmental sustainability and conservation of the country’s precious natural resources, to ensure we do not compromise the well-being of future generations,” she challenged.
She also underscored that the success of the cooperation framework will largely depend on effective collaboration among the Government, the UN, the public and private sectors as well as civil society.
According to her, they must foster an environment where innovation, entrepreneurship and responsible business practices thrive saying by working hand in hand all can leverage the strengths of all partners for the benefit of Sierra Leone.
She disclosed that as they develop the next CF, they will craft a coordination structure that is transparent, accountable and responsive to the needs of the people of the country. In her view, regular consultations and feedback mechanisms, through a Joint Steering Committee, chaired by MoPED and the UN, will be instrumental in ensuring that the CF remains a dynamic development instrument.
The Resident Coordinator craved the indulgence of her audience to engage in meaningful deliberations, respect diverse viewpoints and work collectively towards a national priority that not only reflects the country’s aspirations but serves as a catalyst for positive change.
The Mayor of Makeni City, Abubakarr Kamara, commended the UN for the remarkable work they have done in the various sectors they have been working in. He furthered that they are willing to work with them to achieve the 2030 goals.
The Ministry of Planning and Development representative also commended the UN for the support to various development projects across the country.