Sierra Leone, on the 5th June 2021, joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Environment Day (WED) with the theme: “Ecosystems Restoration, Resettling our Relationship with Nature”.
The occasion, which was held at Guma Dam, has in attendance representatives from different MDAs, national and international donors, Members of Parliament, Civil Society Activists, representatives of the Freetown City Council and the Press.
In her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Nancy Tengbeh, who chaired the celebration, extended her profound gratitude to all invited dignitaries and the Planning Committee for putting together arrangements in order to have a successful celebration of World Environment Day (WED).
She highlighted that this year’s celebration should demonstrate to the world that the country’s ecosystem and biodiversity is important hence called for their preservations.
She dilated on the importance of the Ministry of Environment, noting that its key mandate is to formulate policies and programs for sustainable management of the environment which she additionally revealed is in line with the theme which is to preserve the environment. The Permanent Secretary cited the Medium Term National Development Program stating that it indicates several targets on environmental preservation.
“The Ministry is working closely with its supervising Agencies to restore degraded areas to life,” Madam Nancy disclosed admonishing that, “if we fail to protect the environment, it will fail to protect us”.
Stephen Syril James Jusu, Deputy Minister of Environment, in his statement implored all and sundry to use the occasion in order to establish a good relationship with the environment.
He encouraged all Ministries not to work in isolation but instead collaborate with the Inter-Ministerial Committee to strengthen environmental management. He dilated on the National Climate Change Policy, which he said, is currently under review by the Ministry which, according to him, is focusing to either mitigate or adapt to Climate Change.
The Deputy Minister concluded that the celebration is done simultaneously in all regions across the country and called on the Timber Association to identify and replenish degraded areas through the planting of trees.
The Deputy British High Commissioner, Alistair White, said the theme is important for Sierra Leone in terms of protecting its rich biodiversity. He commended the Government of Sierra Leone for creating an Environment Ministry, which according to him demonstrates prioritizing the urgency to protect environmental issues. He thanked all technical persons in and out of the Ministry who are supporting the Hon. Minister of Environment, Prof. Foday Jaward, to showcase Sierra Leone’s commitment to Climate Change for this year’s COP 26 Glasgow Climate Change Conference that will be held in the United Kingdom.
He encouraged all foreign and local stakeholders to work hard to achieve Sierra Leone’s target on Climate Change adaptation.
United Nation Development Programme Representative, Madam Tanzila W. Sankoh said the WED celebration is meant for Sierra Leoneans to realize their responsibilities to care for the environment thus she reminded all to become agents of change.
She noted that the UN is encouraging worldwide awareness about the environment. Sequel to this she entreated the Ministry to embark on actions and activities that would warrant tangible outcomes to change the landscape. Madam Tanzila W. Sankoh cited the massive deforestation happening along the No.2 River and its axis in the Western area. Therefore, she called on development partners to support the Government to erect physical demarcations in all protected areas.
The Head of EU Delegation in Sierra Leone, Tom Vens, underscored the significance of the earth calling for it to be taken good care of. He said 80% of the planet forests are gone, whilst 1 thousand hectare of green land has become a desert. “If we continue to lose our natural resources, we would need total reforestation,” he stated.
He added that restoration is vital to building space for nature noting that the theme for this year is very important because its pinpoints human interactions with the nature.
He said the Guma Dam was appropriately selected because it is served as the main source of water supply adding how water is significant for sustainability of life.
Declaring the WED commemoration open in his keynote address on behalf of the Chief Minister, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Lahai Lawrence Leema, intimated that the world is saddled with numerous challenges including environmental issues. He noted that in order to mitigate these erratic issues, the UN aim in 1972, set aside WED, which has become Global Commemoration. He stated that the occasion should remind all of treating the environment appropriately according to acceptable standards.
Key statements were delivered by other representatives from MDAs National Donor Entities, Parliament, Civil Society Activists and Freetown City Council.
The WED occasion was climaxed with the planting of trees by foreign and local dignitaries.