Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 May 2022:
On Monday 2nd May 2022, I participated in the inaugural Forum on Global Resilience by the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation (“Arsht-Rock”) Resilience Centre. The event was curated to explore proven, innovative, and scalable solutions for building resilience to extreme heat and other climate change challenges.
Extreme urban heat is often called the “silent killer” because globally it kills more people than any other climate-driven weather event in an average year, and yet its deadly nature is little known or understood. Cities are ground zero for the health, social, economic, and physical consequences of extreme heat.
The Forum was opened by Ms Adrienne Arsht, Founder, Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center and it was directed by Senior Vice President Kathy Baughman McLeod.
With Elizabeth Yee, Executive Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation as the moderator of our panel, Eugenia Kargbo, Freetown’s Chief Heat Officer and I spoke about the work FCC is doing to better understand and address extreme heat in our city.
In collaboration with community stakeholders such as Councillors, CDMCs and CBOs under the #FreetownTheTreeTown campaign and with government agencies and partners such as the Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency, EPA, NDMA, UNDP, Sierra Leone Red Cross, SLURC and with funding support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, heat mapping and air quality measurements will start in Freetown within the next two months to identify the urban heat islands and hot spot areas.
Simultaneously, with financial support from Arsht-Rock, we will commence the construction of heat repellent market shades in 3 open air street markets (Calabar Town, Portee and Bombay Street) with plans to expand on these as quickly as possible so as to provide much needed relief for women who are among our most vulnerable population groups. (Below are CGI images to illustrate the market shades).
We are grateful for our partnership with the Arsht-Rock Resilience Centre as we continue to collaborate and explore opportunities to finance more heat resilient interventions in our city.
At a time of major multi-sectoral challenges, it is important for us to keep making tangible improvements in the lives of our residents, one step at a time.
In another development, I had the honor yesterday, 5th May of delivering the keynote address to the Dialogue 2030 Conference in Bonn, Germany. Organized by Engagement Global and hosted by the Mayor of Bonn, the conference brought together municipal leaders (including Mayor Peter Kurz of Mannheim), business leaders, NGOs and academics from across Germany and from partner countries.
I participated in a panel discussion with Dr Barbel Kofler, Parliamentary Secretary in the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development before delivering my keynote address. In my address I recognized that Germany has over 10,750 municipalities and that effective decentralisation of urban planning and service delivery functions to local authorities contributed significantly to the country’s development.
I stated that the challenges faced by many municipalities in developing countries include; lack of decentralisation and ineffective implementation of critical urban management functions (especially building permits and land use planning); lack of or restricted access to capital; and the current ecological crisis (climate change, loss of biodiversity and severe water shortages). I explained how through an inclusive, data driven and technology enabled approach, FCC is using the #TransformFreetown framework to address the challenges of our city and how that framework aligns with the SDGs.
Together with Councillor Mohammed Darboh, Budget & Finance Committee Chairman we used the opportunity to meet with GIZ and the Mannheim city team. We have an ongoing partnership focused on strengthening the city’s urban planning capacity through the recruitment of international and local expert urban planners in anticipation of eventual decentralisation. Additionally GIZ is the donor agency supporting the recently concluded C40Cities due diligence mission on the Freetown Cable Car system so it was an opportunity to be updated on next steps in that process too.
Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE