Mayor Aki-Sawyerr delivers speech in Germany as race to tackle climate change gathers pace

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 September 2021:

Last night – Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone – Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, delivered a stunning speech on climate change at the Stuttgart Climate Premiere in Germany, before the start of the premiere of the play “Okozid”.

The play is a court-room drama set in the year 2034 at the International Court of Justice, where Global South countries have brought charges against industrial countries for their neglect of climate protection regulations.

Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr’s speech (Photo), emphasized the fact that Freetown, like many other cities in the Global South is already experiencing the impact of abnormal weather patterns.

“I explained how climate change is significantly affecting millions of people in Africa even though as a continent we only contribute between 0.55-2% of global GHG emissions. I reiterated the call for action to match rhetoric and for global GHG emissions to be reduced now,” she told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.

Also attending the event were the Mayor of Mannheim, Peter Kurz (President of the Global Parliament of Mayors), Thekla Walker, Stuttgart Minister of the Environment, Michael Bloss, Member of the European Parliament and Councillor Musa Sesay of Ward 421 in Freetown.

Last Tuesday, Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE and other panelists – Andrew Harper, UNCHR’s Special Advisor on Climate; and Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, took part in a discussion programme on Aljazeera about the effects of climate change on poorer countries and the steps governments are taking to minimize and manage the impacts. The panel also discussed how climate change is spurring displacement and migration, and the impact this is having on cities and communities and how people and places are responding. (Photo below: Mayor Aki-Sawyerr in Stuttgart, Germany).

Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr told Femi Oke, who hosted the programme on Aljazeera, that as mayor of Freetown she is working relentlessly with the Freetown City Council to build a city that is resilient and adaptable to climate change.

You can watch the video here:

Some of the remarkable achievements recorded so far by the Freetown Mayor and her City Council in tackling climate change, can be seen across the city of Freetown, although the enormity of the task is being overshadowed by the Bio-led government’s poor response to the challenges posed by environmental degradation caused by corruption, maladministration, and gerrymandering.

The Mayor and her Freetown City Council (FCC) are aiming to plant over one million trees in the western area peninsula which would increase vegetation cover in Freetown by 50% by 2022, thus mitigating against deforestation and climate change disasters.

In 2019 the Mayor and the FCC planted 23,000 trees in communities and schools across Freetown, working in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ministry of Agriculture, with funding from the EU, CRS and private sector donors.

12,500 trees were planted along natural river and waterway channels at Peacock Farm in Wellington, Congo Water Wellington, Upper Philip Street, Kissy Mental catchment, Sorie Town, New England, Hill Station and Sumaila Town so as to reduce flooding along the natural drainage channels.

A further 10,000 trees were planted in Mayenkenie, Upper Gassama Street, Allen Town, Leicester Road as part of FCC’s drive to transform brown fields into green fields in the upper catchment areas.

1,000 trees were planted in public green spaces including Taylor- Cummings Garden and Aberdeen Roundabout. Trees were planted along the main Bai Bureh Road from Allen Town, Rokupa, Congo Water and Portee.

500 trees were planted in 30 Schools in Freetown and 500 trees in the Robis Cemetery in Calaba Town.

Last year – 2020, Mayor Aki-Sawyer and the FCC, launched  “Freetown The TreeTown Campaign” – a remarkable afforestation and climate change mitigation initiative, at the Mayor’s Ball held on 3rd January 2020, with the aim of planting over one million trees by 2022. (Photo: Mayor Aki-Sawyerr speaking in Stuttgart, Germany last night).

By the end of 2020, the Mayor of Freetown Mrs Aki-Sawyer and FCC had planted over 245,000 trees: 31,811 trees planted on private lands and 213,189 trees planted on public and communal land and spaces.

Among key geographical areas targeted for planting of the one million trees in the Western Area Peninsula include – 35 local council wards, 300 communities, 76 schools, 11 health facilities, 66 religious institutions, 37 Government buildings, 7 dams surrounding areas, 4 cemeteries and 58 roadsides.

The Mayor and FCC’s priority sector initiatives have created 553 green jobs in tree planting communities and training about 800 community climate action ambassadors.

The planting of the one million trees in the Freetown Campaign has gained international recognition and was the subject of Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr’s TED Talk for “CountDown”, a global initiative to accelerate solutions to the global crisis.

The FCC has created a plants nursery in Victoria Park Freetown, which already has produced over 5,000 seedlings, and will be the main source of plants for the tree planting campaign.

By the end of this month – September 2021, the Mayor and FCC would have planted 350,000 trees toward the one million trees target as the race to increase vegetation by 50% in Freetown by 2022 in response to the climate change emergency, gathers pace.

You can watch the Mayor’s TedTalk here:




  1. Mayor Akin Swayer have once again proved when it comes to the real issues facing us humans, both nationally and internationally, she is the best amongst the best. As the goodwill ambassador for the Southern hemisphere, on the climate crisis facing us, she haven’t failed to disappoint. Where it matters, climate change, which she rightly claimed is closer to her heart, has becomes her selling point, that cause big cooperation, and governments around the world to sit up and listen to her. Slowly but surely, she is acquiring the status of the “MOTHER THERESA OF CLIMATE CHANGE”. She is the best export we have. We should all be proud of her for flying our flag proudly around the world.This days the only good news coming out of Sierra Leone. Her good work is not only recognised by her fellow politicians around the world, who see in her a stellar of a determined woman that wants to get things done in a world dominated by men, but big cooperation sees in her what they want to do as they try to recalibrate their business models to address the climate issues facing us.

    As the environmental goodwill ambassadors for the Southern hemisphere, she is not only a role model for young girls and women across the Globe, but have shown them tbat with education, hard work, that glass ceiling can be broken, and you can become anything you want to be. Your gender is not a barrier. If Bio was a clever politicians, his government should have been working with our Mayor. I suppose her public speeches will create more buzz, which in turn will make the cooperate world wanting to come and invest in our country.

    We need investors in solar, clean water, roads, flood defences, and regulations of the Timber trade. The Northern hemisphere, countries, the world’s worst environmental offenders, have agreed to compensate countries in the southern hemisphere, and support programmes that will help mitigate the climate emergency facing us. In the last decades Freetown have suffered from flooding. But the international community will not support our Mayor of Freetown, if Bio, and his craziest of crazies are going after our mayor. Time to get a grip.

  2. Her Excellency-Irrepressible -Her Worship- Honourable Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr is once again right on the ball, denying her opponents, distractors and detractors to even take a glance let alone a look-in. She has won the respect and admiration of not only the people of Freetown but that of the international community too. It doesn’t take much intelligence to ascertain that the distinguished lady cannot honour all the barrage of invitations for her to attend various conferences around the world. Environmentalists around the world love her to death, they want her by their side in all operations, particularly in the do or die ones.

    The national and international popularity of Her Worship are eating up Bio and his government from the inside like a cancer, hence their constant and sinister moves to impede and overshadow her. But keeping down a good person is impossible, they usually possess natural and supernatural powers, they cannot even explain the latter themselves. For heaven’s sake, who can keep a person down who wants to bring her city to the 21st century and beyond. Only the likes of Bio and his government would contrive to do such a thing because their minds are stuck in medieval times.

  3. When it comes to identifying the problems of our times, especially on Global warming and the environmental issues facing us, Mayor Akin Sawyer has proved her worth both domestically and internationally.This is the sort of politicians we need in our country.Someone who is capable of identify the issues and is ready to confront them head on before is too late. By being the good will environmental ambassador, for the Southern hemisphere, Mayor Akin Sawyer is one of the best export Sierra Leone have at the moment. She knows her brief and quiet frankly she have put our national government under Bio’s stewardship to shame. Bio and his government might have all the laws and purse strings to the nations coffers in their finger tips, but for some reason, his government have failed to grasp the issues of the climate emergency facing us. The unchecked Timber trade, that has been identified has one of the major contributory factors, responsible for the flooding of the city of Freetown metropolis, is not only been overlooked by this short sighted Bio government, but the lack of any enforcement action by the government, is encouraging more cowboy Timber traders harvesting our prime rainforest, to the detriment of millions of people.

    Putting lives and livihood at risk. Since 2017, many lives, homes and businesses have been lost to flooding. This mentality of putting profits before people, and given Freetown is a low lying area around the Atlantic coast line, maybe is about time Freetown residents come together and petition this do nothing Bio government to take the issues of climate change serious . Some Islands in the South Pacific have already started disappearing . Causing massive relocation of whole populations. I will call them the environmental refugees.

    The Bio government should support Freetown city Council, and provide them with the necessary funding to build flood defences. On that one, I wouldn’t hold my breath , given how Bio’s government have treated our internationally respected Mayor. Bio seems to surround himself with the most extreme of extreme of elements. The craziest of the crazy trying to out due themselves for the president’s ears. Otherwise he should be working with oir mayor to tackle the most urgent climate issues facing us.

  4. Wow – this Mayor is walking the talk. Her performance is truly remarkable and exemplary. She sets the standards for other Mayors in Sierra Leone, and even the president and his ministers to follow. I take my hat off to you Madam Mayor. You dont talk big talk – you perform with evidence for all to see. Proud of your record Mam. Maximum respect!

  5. We are very proud of you, Mayor. As ever, you can hold your own anywhere and on any occasion. Yes, you are your own person, able to think for yourself and articulate that thinking without the need for a master’s voice. Very much unlike what we all know who always does because of his cerebral inadequacies. For sure, you are one of our nation’s best spokespersons. Who knows, you may well become in the coming years the president of our country. You will have deserved it fairly and squarely if that comes to pass. Enjoy your current trip in Europe and have a safe journey back home.

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