Review Paper on UNCED (Agenda 21), outlining its specific relevance or application to Liberia’s Sustainable Development.

This document contains the review writing on the Agenda 21, a release of the Earth Summit (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 1992. The agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations including the United Nations, Governments and local Non-Governmental groups at every area in which human impacts the environment. The Agenda 21 is a 351-page document divided into 40 chapters, which have been partition under 4 broad headings. It has the plan of action to achieve sustainable development; it was adopted by world leaders at the United Nations Convention on Environment and Development.


This Review Article surveys and summarizes the agenda of the 21st Century. It classifies and analyzes the document while focusing on its specific relevance and application to Liberia’s Sustainable Development. The document been reviewed was made public at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (06/13/1992), where 178 governments voted to adopt the program. The final text was the result of drafting, consultation, and negotiation, beginning in 1980 and culminating at the two-weeks conference.

The Agenda 21

“Humanity stands at a defining moment in history”, the time in history at which human activities began to degrade the environment; nations face crisis of poor health services, huge rate of biodiversity loss, climate change and more dilapidation of the ecosystem. Countries gathered together to collaborate and establish plans that will conserve natural resources. The Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the statement of principles for the sustainable management of Forests was adopted by more than 178 Governments at the UNCED; in execution of the areas identified within the agenda, priority was given to developing countries.

Social and Economic Dimensions

This section focuses on nation’s responsibilities in achieving their sustainable development goals; whilst aiming at combating poverty, changing consumption patterns and promoting integrated environment and development in decision-making. These chapters focus on unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. Prioritizing waste reduction and promoting the wise use of finite resources.

Promoting sustainable development can be done through an open, equitable and predictable multilateral trading system that is consistent with these goals. Abilities for countries to pull together through international trade, the resources needed to finance investments require for sustainable development, including tariff escalation and limiting their access to export markets. As poverty is an environmental stressor, usually cause by over-population; the major cause of deterioration in the environment is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production. The eradication of poverty and hunger, greater equity in income distribution and human resource remain a challenge everywhere. There is a need to mitigate the adverse impacts of human’s activities on the environment and minimize the magnitude of environmental hazards on the human population.

  • Relevance to Liberia’s Sustainable Development.

Globally, sustainable development is recognized as a potential pathway for building resilient cities, reducing poverty and safeguarding the natural environment. Urbanization trend in Liberia and poverty conditions have compounded and weakened the capacity to achieve sustainable development. It is equally important to strengthen Liberia’s policies and implementation measures. Markets need to be accessible; exports in conjunction with sound macroeconomic and environmental policies would have a positive environmental impact on Liberia’s sustainable development.

In order to hasten the prospects of achieving the nation’s Development Goals, the government should continue to strive to meet these objectives:

-Improve access to the export markets.

-Development of all poverty-stricken areas and sustainable management of the environment, resource mobilization, poverty eradication and alleviation; meeting unemployment and income generation.

-Liberia needs to promote a pattern of consumption and production that reduces environmental stress and meets the basic needs of its citizens.

-Liberians should incorporate demographic trends and factors in the global analysis of environment and development issues.

Conservation and Management of Resources for Development

Environmental resource management and conservation can be viewed from a variety of perspectives. It involves the management of all components of the bio-physical environment, both living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic), and the relationships among all living species and their habitats. Section II includes combatting deforestation, conservation of biological diversity, atmospheric protection, pollution control and the adequate management of hazardous waste. This section also delve into climate change and climate variability; and assessing the utilization and full value of the goods and services that are provided by the forests.

Fragile ecosystems should be welled managed. These include deserts, semi-arid lands, mountains and certain coastal areas. Mountains are mostly vulnerable to human and natural ecological imbalance; these physical bodies of the ecosystem are most sensitive to all climatic changes in the atmosphere.

These following objectives were set:

-To maintain and enhance the ability of developing countries, to manage and implement their policies, programs and planning activities, no later than 2005.

-Ways and means to combat deforestation and manage fragile ecosystem worldwide.

-Contributing through environmentally sound application of biotechnology to a worldwide health care program, while focusing on good health services among individuals.

-Coastal states commitment to integrated management and sustainable development of coastal areas and the marine ecosystem.

-Strengthening and increasing national waste reuse and recycle systems.

-To ensure that radioactive wastes are safely managed, transported, stored and disposed of, with a view to protecting human health and the environment within a wider framework of interactive and integrated approach.

  • Liberia Conservation and Management agencies meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

An act for the conservation of the natural resource (forest in particular) of the Republic of Liberia (Forest Act, 1953). Supplementary Act (1957). These Acts provide for the establishment of the Bureau of Forest Conservation within the Department of Agriculture and Commerce and describe the basic legal framework for forest and wildlife management in Liberia.

The Society for the conservation of Nature in Liberia promotes nature conservation, supports the establishment of a protected area network, and encourages good governance of natural resource management and increase public participation in biodiversity conservation.

In 1976, the Liberian Forestry Development Authority was created to manage and preserve the country’s forest resources. This agency partners with non-governmental and United Nation organizations to meet the Country’s Development Goals. By 1982, seven protected areas were proposed in Liberia, including three national parks to preserve the country fragile resources. Of the three national parks, the Sapo National Park-named after the local Sapo (or sao) tribe-was formally designated, in 1983 by the government. This park was created to contribute to the sustainable management of resources in partnership with communities. Liberia National Parks is undergoing sites restoration; areas that were destroyed by the country’s civil crisis is been replenished. These natural parks were created to sustain their variety of natural habitats. Regeneration of areas that have been degraded by inappropriate management, unsustainable logging, overgrazing and agricultural expansion is been focus on so that Sustainable Development can be achieved.

Strengthening the Role of Major Groups

This section addresses the means for moving forward towards real social partnership, in support of the sustainable development goals and increasing the proportion of women and youth in decision making, planning and giving technical support. Emphasis is given to the women, children and youth, indigenous people, NGOs, businesses and industries and the scientific and technology communities that function together to culminate the 21st century agenda. Non-Governmental Organizations involved in plant conservation need to foster cooperation and communication amongst themselves. International organizations, national and local governments should aim to reinforcing their effectiveness as participants in the implementation of sustainable development.

Furthermore, there is little mention of Agenda 21 at the local level in indigenous media. Agenda 21 participation in North Africa countries mirrors that of Middle Eastern countries, with most countries being signatories but little to no adoption on local-government level.

This section aims at:

-Enabling countries to undertake initiatives that have the objective of reducing current levels of youth unemployment, particularly where they are disproportionately high in comparison to the overall unemployment rate.

-Adoption or strengthening of appropriate policies and/or legal instruments at the national level.

-Governments should strengthen collaboration with the indigenous people affected, the rights and responsibilities of indigenous people and their communities in the legislation of each country, suitable to the country’s specific situation. Developing countries may require technical assistance to implement these activities.

-Increment in the provision of workers’ education, training and retraining, particularly in the areas of occupational health and safety and the environment.

-To improve the exchange of knowledge and concerns between the scientific and technological community and the general public in order to enable policies and programs to be better formulated, understood and supported.

  • Liberia’s Framework to strengthen their Sustainable Development Process.

Liberia is currently embarking on completion of its long-term development strategy: Liberia Rising, Vision 2030, with the goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2030. Fourteen years of civil conflict in Liberia destroyed government institutions, decimated infrastructure, forced the flight of thousands, and left approximately 250,000 dead. Since 2004, the country has been rebuilding these institutions and services while putting in place new mechanisms to ensure economic growth that will benefit all Liberians. Concerted effort has been made to improve economic, political, and social governance in Liberia. Post-conflict Liberia’s national development strategies have included short, medium, and long-term visions for moving toward a sustainable future.

The government of Liberia is taking steps towards a structural transformation of the economy to reduce the reliance on natural resource extraction and ensure inclusive economic growth. Liberia has launched an agriculture transformation agenda to drive economic diversification led by agricultural productivity enhancement in order to reduce susceptibility to global economic, food and fuel price shocks.

The goal for the infrastructure and basic services pillar was: To rehabilitate infrastructure and rebuild systems to deliver basic services in order to create the conditions and linkages needed to achieve broad-based growth and poverty reduction.

Means of Implementation

This section deals with the financial mechanisms that are in place, educational institution, science and technology, and international institutions. Chapter 33 encourages the establishment of measures concerning financial resources, such as multilateral development banks, relevant specialized international agencies (e.g. UN agencies), multilateral institutions for capacity building and technical cooperation, bilateral assistance programs, debt relief, private funding, investment and innovative financing.

In general, the financing for the implementation of Agenda 21 will come from a country’s own public and private sectors. For developing countries, particularly the least developed countries, Official Development Assistance (ODA) is a main source of external funding. Developed countries reaffirm their commitments to reach the accepted United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of GNP for ODA and, to the extent that they have not yet achieved that target, agree to augment their aid programs in order to reach that target as soon as possible and to ensure prompt and effective implementation of Agenda 21. Some countries have agreed to reach the target by the year 2000. It was decided that then Commission on Sustainable Development would regularly review and monitor progress towards this target. This review process should systematically combine the monitoring of the implementation of Agenda 21 with a review of the financial resources available.

The Commission on Sustainable Development acts as a high-level forum on sustainable development and has acted as preparatory committee for summits and sessions on the implementation of Agenda 21. The UN Division for Sustainable Development acts as the secretariat to the Commission and works “within the context of” Agenda 21. Implementation member’s states remain voluntary, and its adoption has varied. Baltic nations formed the Baltic 21 coalition as a regional expression of Agenda 21.

The basic objectives of this section were:

-Creation of funding mechanisms to use for the implementation of the Agenda and to promote long-term technological partnership between holders of environmentally sound technologies.

-Encouraging participation of people in setting priorities and in decision-making relating to sustainable development.

-Achieving environmental and development awareness in all sectors on a world-wide scale as soon as possible.

-Improving institutional capacity and capability, both public and private, in order to evaluate the environmental impact of all development projects.

-To make relevant information accessible in the time required to facilitate its use.

  • Liberia’s method of application to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Liberia’s approach has been pioneering, as it fuses peace building and sustainable development strategies. The idea of formulating a National Vision initially struck Liberians in various ways. From the retrospect and structural analysis to achieve the country Sustainable Development, the following elements have emerged:

-Socially and demographically harmonious nation united in diversity

-Economically prosperous people

-Politically democratic

-Environmentally, a beautiful and flourishing country

-Culturally vibrant

-Technologically innovative

Liberia’s medium- and long-term development agenda emphasizessustained economic growth and social development. The development strategy of Liberia along with the various reforms efforts has set the framework for sustainable development. Liberia has been lauded for its outstanding accomplishments in the reform of several natural resources sectors to integrate transparency, accountability, equity, and sustainability. The establisment of reformed legal frameworks has indeed represented remarkable progress, but in many cases, progress has stalled after the legal reforms. Substantial investment of resources and political will, vent into the establishment of these reforms. If implementation does not bring the anticipated benefits, the lesson to be drawn from these great efforts will be that such reform in a post-conflict developing context like Liberia is impossible.


Agenda 21 forms the basis for a “global partnership” to encourage cooperation among nations as they support a transition to sustaining life on earth. The central belief is that all countries can protect the environment while simultaneously experiencing growth.

The success of Agenda 21 relies heavily on education and public awareness programs. Chapter 36 promoting education, public awareness and training is one of the major means of implementation. Agenda 21 states that ‘Education is critical for promoting sustainable development and improving the capacity of the people to address environment and development issues. Botanic gardens are in the forefront in developing education programs to support the Agenda.

The components from the vision of Liberia, suggest that Liberians’ vision is multidimensional, addressing all at once the social, economic, political, environmental, cultural and technological aspirations of the Liberian people. It goes beyond the narrow approaches of development, which have proven problematic over time.



June 1992. Agenda 21.pdf. United Nations Sustainable Development.

Guidancenotes.pdf. Developing National Sustainable Development Strategies in Post-Conflict Countries.

November 2012. LIBERIA NATIONAL VISION 2030. Draft Summary Report.

Liberia SDGs Retreat short report.pdf

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