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: