MONROVIA, Montserrado – SMART Liberia officially launched its Sustainable Development Goals Tour on March 17, 2017, at the Monrovia Christian Fellowship with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.
The program brought together over 100 stakeholders, includingÂ students, business, and civil society leaders to promote an ecosystem of Global Citizens ahead of the World We Want by 2030.
In his opening remarks, Gerald Hodges, SMART Liberiaâ€™s national project director, highlighted that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are not only the aspirations of world leaders, but they also represent the dream of everyone in the world.
â€œSince 2011, SMART Liberia has been working to create communities in which all children and youths dreams are activated through a vibrant education system that nurtures and inspires them to achieve their dreams,â€ he said. â€œOur work has directly, and indirectly contributed to achieving all of the goals, but most importantly goals 4, 5 and 8.â€
Following the opening remarks, the first-panel discussion topic was â€œEnding Poverty through Education & Economic Empowerment,â€ and the panelists were Charles Cooper, CEO and Co-Founder of Cookshop.Biz, and Lawrence Yealue, country director of the Accountability Lab.
Yealue said that Accountability Lab is also greatly contributing to implementing all of the goals, but with specific emphasis on Goal 14, which speaks of peace and justice by naming and faming public officials and civil society actors who have demonstrated high level of accountability and integrity.
He noted that one of Liberiaâ€™s biggest problem for decades has been corruption across every level of the society: â€œIn order for us to achieve economic prosperity and ensure that resources are equitably distributed, every citizen must act ethically and responsibly.â€
As for Cooper, he said Cookshop is contributing to ending poverty and hunger through job creation and paying their staff above the minimum wage in Liberia. In his parting comment, he said that Liberia is still a virgin land filled with opportunities. He encouraged students to pursue career opportunities in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics because achieving these goals is highly tied to career paths in STEM.
The second panel focused on â€œPromoting Healthy Communities through Positive Climate Action.â€ Serving as panelists were: Klon Hinneh, an environmental engineering student at Kyoto University; James Mulbah, the CEO of Green Cities; and Vickjune Wutoe and Abraham Varney, both SMART Fellows, a professional development internship under SMART Liberiaâ€™s School Improvement Project.
Hinneh said that climate change is real. â€œCurrently, freshwater constitutes only two percent of the amount of water we have on earth, with most of the water being seawater. Therefore, we must start thinking about better ways to produce and manage safe drinking water.â€
For her part, Wutoh called on young women to become responsible citizens and see men as partners and not rivals. She also called on men to see women as partners and not domestic objects.
Members of the Change-leaders clubs of Muslim Congress and Len Miller High Schools performed a drama depicting ten of the SDGs.
Mercia Johnson, a 16 years old senior student at the Len Miller High School played the character of Mary.
â€œ I loved playing Mary because it was an opportunity for me to encourage my friends to dream big. But I also took the role as a challenge to myself to follow the path of Mary,â€ Mercia said.
The SMART Fellows also performed a spoken word titled, â€œWhat excuse would you give tomorrow?â€ What excuse would you give tomorrow if you fail to dream big? What excuse would you give tomorrow if you fail to contribute to the growth and development of your community?
SMART Liberia Global Goals Tour ended with many students sharing their aspirations for the Liberia they want by 2030.
Featured photo courtesy of SMART Liberia