The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: World Leaders Gear Up for Monrovia

Several world leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, among others are said to be gearing up to attend the third High Level Panel Meeting on the Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Monrovia from January 30 to February 2, 2013.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to co-chair the upcoming meeting with both leaders in Monrovia.

A release from the Executive Mansion said, the Panel is comprised of 27 members, including Heads of State, Ministers, former Ministers and independent experts. President Sirleaf last week Thursday received several visiting dignitaries in

Monrovia and expressed appreciation for their presence ahead of the third High Level Panel Meeting on the Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Already here for preparatory meetings include the former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Professor Dr. Horst Köhler; Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden, Madam Gunilla Carlsson; Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning, Madam Amina J. Mohammed (ex officio); Head of High Level Panel- London Secretariat and Envoy of Prime Minister David Cameron; among others.

Speaking earlier during a reception held at the German Ambassador's residence in Monrovia, Ambassador Dr. Bodo Schaff welcomed the high ranking visitors, who are actively involved in preparation for the HLP meeting expected to be a huge event bringing Monrovia back to being a recognized world player.

Ambassador Schaff noted that as the meeting expects to tackle among other issues youth empowerment and employment theme, Monrovia seems a very appropriate place to deal with this issue.

"We are aware that youth unemployment is not only a humanitarian issue but may also become the core of civil unrest," he said, adding that its conflict potential has been seen in several cases as Liberia's youth accounts for more than 65 percent of the country's population with most of them living and surviving outside the formal sector which shows the urgency of getting involved and trying to promote international multilateral and bilateral cooperation.

Also speaking, the Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Per Carlson, welcomed the presence of the high ranking visitors, and noted that the work of the High Level Panel promoting the Development Agenda 2015+ is now at a decisive point and the upcoming meeting in Monrovia will be of greatest importance.

"I think the presence of distinguished and high ranking guests show us how strong the support for Liberia is," he said; adding that Liberia is an important partner and can count on Swedish support.

Former German President, Professor Dr. Horst Köhler, in brief remarks, said he was delighted to be in Liberia for the first time, saying that his appointment to the Panel was a good opportunity to come to Liberia after he had heard that President Sirleaf had been appointed one of three co-chairs of the High Level Panel.

He indicated that he has had discussions with some members of civil society, business community and the youth of Liberia and is very optimistic about the future of Liberia and Africa on the whole.

"There was commitment, lot of intelligent comments, and they wholeheartedly supported my priorities for the Panel which include education, job creation for the youth, improved economy which I'm sure will not only pay off for Liberia if we tackle these objectives," Dr. Köhler said.

The Monrovia meeting will seek, among other priorities, to discuss, debate and refine a narrative document which will set out a vision for the future of development based on the Panel's responses to the framing questions, including the co-chairs' paper; identify the key challenges facing economic growth and transformation and the national-level building blocks required to achieve sustained prosperity.

It will also share evidence and consultation findings from various constituencies with Panel members; clarify and confirm key agreements made at the London meeting, so that Monrovia builds on this groundwork, and identify how the outcomes of Monrovia will feed into the fourth HLP meeting in Bali, Indonesia in March 2013 and into the final HLP report.

President Sirleaf praised the special guests and eminent persons for the partnership and support provided the country that is gradually recovering, noting that the pending meeting will put Liberia again on the world stage. She also thanked the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, for selecting her as one of three co-chairs.

Big thank you to all of you; the UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban, for this initiative; and to all of his associates and the High Level Panel for the work they will do to develop the new global development agenda," the Liberian leader said.

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