Mayor Aki-Sawyerr OBE: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 May 2022:
Water is life and in Freetown the consequences of limited or no access to clean, potable water are acutely felt by almost 50% of our residents and to some degree by us all. The challenges of access to water increase with the continued deforestation of the Western Area Peninsula National Park which protects the city’s major water catchment areas, including the Guma Dam.
Whilst many water challenges in Freetown are local and should be addressed with local actions, including environmentally sensitive urban planning, there is also a global dimension to the challenges of water.
That is why a Global Commission on the Economics of Water has been launched at the World Economic Forum at Davos.
The Global Commission will redefine the way we globally value and govern water for the common good. It will present the evidence and the pathways for changes in policy, business approaches and global collaboration to support climate and water justice, sustainability, and food-energy-water security.
Chaired by Professor Mariana Mazzucato, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Professor Johan Rockström and Singapore Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the Commission has 12 Commissioners, 3 lead experts and 2 advisors.
I am pleased to serve as one of 12 Commissioners, bringing to the Global Commission the perspectives of a city leader from a developing country where the challenges of access to water are a daily reality with far reaching socio-economic impacts.
The work of the Global Commission kicked off at a two-day retreat in Geneva on 21st to 22nd May.
As an economist, I am excited by the approach being adopted by the Global Commission as it will design solutions that go beyond simply fixing market failures. “What is needed are purpose-driven private-public partnerships on a scale that has never been attempted before, to mobilise finance, invest in innovations and deliver access everywhere to affordable, safe water,” said Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
The Global Commission’s first report will be published to coincide with the UN’s 2023 Water Conference and inform the launch of a “Pact for Voluntary Commitments”. The two-year project will deliver an action agenda to spur change globally, among governments, local authorities, industry, finance, multilateral institutions and non-state actors.
As Mayor of Freetown, I will ensure that the needs and perspectives of those most challenged by present and future access to water are reflected in this work and importantly, in the solutions designed to address the challenges of water.
In another development, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr spoke passionately at a women leadership advancement forum, organised virtually last Saturday. She delivered a powerful plea for women empowerment and strengthening of democracy, and called on the government to open up political space for women participation and involvement.
This is what she said: