The Liberia-Norway Connection


Forests are a huge potential source of wealth and opportunity. Governed wisely, they support livelihoods, promote food security, generate export earnings and nurture vital ecological systems. That is why “sustainably managing forests” is part of the 15th Sustainable Development Goal — the “land use goal” — which the UN General Assembly is expected to adopt this month.

A new approach to managing the forests of Liberia — where I was born — is providing a useful example of the innovative thinking that is needed. If successful, it could contribute significantly to the achievement of SDG 15 worldwide.

In many regions of the world, forests continue to be plundered, consolidating the power and personal fortunes of ruling elites and enriching foreign traders. Across the Amazon, the Congo basin and many parts of Southeast Asia, rainforests have been stripped out at a dizzying rate to line the pockets of foreign logging companies and their supporters in government.

In Africa, too, forest communities — often among a nation’s poorest — are robbed persistently of the resources they rely on for life and livelihood.

View a larger version of this graphic here.

Graphic by the Africa Progress Panel

Kofi Annan’s Africa Progress Panel has long advocated for Africa’s natural wealth to be better managed so that it drives dynamic and inclusive growth. While its 2013 report looked at the issue of Equity in Extractives, its 2014 report, Grain, Fish, Money, highlighted the paradox of poverty amid plenty in the forestry sector, focusing on the forests of West and Central Africa.

The report found that African governments are failing to protect valuable national forests (and fisheries). Powerful vested interests, domestic and foreign, are essentially being “licensed to plunder.” At the same time, the wider international community has failed to develop the multilateral rules —> Read More