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:
Between the 22nd, and 26th of May the annual meeting of the world economic forum met in Davos Switzerland under the theme”Working together , restoreing trust “Under Bio we will need a lot of rebuilding of trust between the government and the governed. Like a drunk, our country is lurching from one crisis to an other . The effect of covid19 , corruption on industrial scale, and now Putin’s war of choice in Ukraine have pushed every country’s economy to the brink .And unfortunately Sub -Saharan Africa is going to bare the brunt of what is happening on the other side of the world..This meeting in Davos , is the first global in-person leadership meeting of it’s kind since the Covid 19 pandemic took hold at the back end of 2019.The meeting brings together heads of past and present governments , politicians , business leaders, captains of industries ,NGOs ,civil society and academia to address critical issues at the start of each year.
Davos is the laboratory of where solutions of the worlds problem are research and understood.This years meeting is structured around six themes.(1)promoting global and regional cooperation.(2)Ensuring economic recovery and building a new era of growth.(3)Building healthy and fair societies.(4)Safeguarding the climate , food supply and nature.(5)promoting the transformation of industry.(6)Harnessing the power of the fourth industrial revolution. Where does Sierra Leone fits in this global agenda only time will tell .
We have our own battles to fight like hunger and poverty .And a government that have lost all credibility for the ability to govern for the good of all not the few . Indeed few African presidents or leaders from developing nations are given the time slot to speak on this global economic forum to make their contribution on how to slove the global issues facing us today .But Mayor Akin Sawyer have once again shown the dummies in State House that if Bio and his government can’t recognized we have a gem in our midst, just like our natural resources the international community or Junney Foreigner is ready to snapped her up to make use of her talents for the good of humanity.
It is in this meetings that the titans of Industries and philanthropist that come together with politicians come looking for investment opportunities to help developing countries shape their future economic growth .Unfortunately given the high profile of our Mayor on the international stage and her treatment by the Bio government ,it will take a brave investor to come and invest in our country.The Bio government should work with her to attract foreign direct investment to our country instead of maltreating her in a political witch hunt that makes investors run for the hills anytime they hear the words Sierra Leone.She should be in posters at Lungi International Airport that says our country is open to tourism and Buiness .The actions of Bio and his government doesn’t leave room for confidence in our country.
The Mayor of Freetown is doing a great job with international recognition for her initiatives to make Freetown a better city. Freetown has huge challenges with planning, water sanitation and waste management. This mayor has the skillset that many in the public sector can only dream of. I urge the government to work with Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr for the good of the country.
Once Freetown sets the bar it will be easier for all other cities and towns to follow. Highly skilled people like the mayor return from the diaspora to contribute to national development but are discouraged by saboteurs. I have never in my lifetime seen a Freetown Mayor as engaging with brilliant ideas to transform Freetown. Freetonians should re-elect her to continue the good work.
It’s really a good move because water is life. Please Mayor do not also forget to advocate for our people living in the villages.