His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio has addressed the 26th Conference of Parties, COP26, of the UN Framework Conventions on Climate Change, UNFCCC, promised a climate-resilient future, and made a case for Sierra Leone’s ecosystems, one of the most diverse in the world.
“Inland wetlands and forests across 4 main relief regions, about 15,000 plant species, the most diverse fish stocks along the west coast of Africa, and 761 species of mammals and birds,” he said, but warned that the country was highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
“…rapid biodiversity and tree cover loss, and the attendant threats to human habitat, health, food, and water security. As a consequence, other fallouts like poverty, gender disparities, and youth unemployment are intensifying especially in the COVID-19 era.
“We are doing the very best we can in the circumstances. We are fully committed to all international agreements and actions to develop a climate-resilient future. We have established a stand-alone Ministry of the Environment and recently reviewed and updated our Nationally Determined Contribution, National Climate Change Policy, and National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plans. We have identified environmental pressure points and we are implementing coherent mitigation and adaption strategies,” he said.
President Bio, however, disclosed that all of those were being done within the limited resources the country had, and further underscored the government’s climate change actions in national development planning and budgeting processes in alignment with outcomes derived from the UNFCCC process.
“We have enhanced the conservation and protection of natural habitats and ecosystems, improved meteorological services, integrated water resource management and community-based adaptation strategies in the agriculture sector, and promoted climate change risk management.
“We are promoting alternative renewable energy in off-grid solar networks and stepping up tree-planting to restore 960,000 hectares of depleted forests. We believe that establishing a green economy should focus on restoring and protecting, investing in, consuming sustainably, and being accountable and inclusive,” he noted.
Sierra Leone is taking part in the COP26 this year because climate change is real and for the Least Developed Countries of the world the circumstances present an ever-present and looming existential threat. Sierra Leone, like most developing countries, risks bearing the brunt of climate change effects.
Agriculture is predominantly rain-fed and climate change is having a dramatic impact on fisheries and coastal zones, road and transport infrastructure is weakened by extreme weather conditions. These risks can easily transition into crisis-level situations for the country.