By Theresa Kef Sesay
The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has raised a clarion call for immediate attention to the intertwined challenges of climate change and human rights in Sierra Leone. Known for its relentless advocacy for human rights, CHRDI’s recent policy brief underscores the critical need for comprehensive policy measures to tackle the vulnerabilities faced by the nation.
CHRDI, a non-profit organization advocating for social policy and human rights, operates from Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom. With a core mission to bridge the gap between social equity and justice, the organization highlights the duty of those in power to uphold human rights while empowering individuals to claim their rights. Accredited by several UN agencies with Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, CHRDI’s influence extends globally.
In December 2023, CHRDI sounded alarms over citizens’ rights violations in Sierra Leone. The organization also condemned the attempted seizure of Wilberforce barracks and armories in November 2023.
Experts widely agree that Governments hold a pivotal role in combating climate change, differing in opinions on the most effective strategies. Sierra Leone, despite participating in climate change summits for almost four years, lacks a concrete policy. Efforts have been ongoing for years in developing the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP), set to supersede the previous policy once approved in 2023.
Today, CHRDI unveils a comprehensive six-page policy brief containing nine robust recommendations addressing human rights and climate change in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone, renowned for its diverse landscapes and rich natural resources, faces imminent threats from the rapidly evolving impacts of climate change. With a majority of its 7.9 million citizens dependent on agriculture and natural resources, the effects on food security, infrastructure, and the environment are increasingly dire.
CHRDI emphasizes the urgency of policy interventions focusing on poverty-environment integration, intertwining environmental concerns with poverty alleviation strategies. Effective environmental management, as stressed by CHRDI, plays a pivotal role in bolstering health, resilience, and opportunities for marginalized communities.
Central to CHRDI’s advocacy is the need for inclusive policy frameworks fostering collaboration among diverse stakeholders. This approach involves active engagement from Government bodies, businesses, environmental advocates, and local communities. Stakeholder input, according to CHRDI, is crucial in tackling the complex challenges posed by climate change.
The pending National Climate Change Policy development in Sierra Leone prompts CHRDI’s call for expedited approval, citing the urgency to address new challenges, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate climate-related adversities.
CHRDI’s policy brief underscores the responsibility of states and private entities in combating climate change. Beyond preventing future environmental harm, these entities must take accountability for past and present damage caused by their actions.
Emphasizing core principles like non-discrimination, justice, participation, transparency, and accountability, CHRDI links Sierra Leone’s economic development with its natural resources, making it highly vulnerable to climate change.
The recommendations proposed by CHRDI encompass diverse actions, from enacting a Climate Change Bill to imposing carbon emission taxes and promoting green investments. The organization advocates for private sector involvement with human rights perspectives, emphasizing institution strengthening, public education, data collection, and empowering women as vital in fighting climate change.
CHRDI underscores the interdependence of human rights and sustainable development, urging Sierra Leone to adopt a holistic approach intertwining these aspects in its climate policies and strategies.
Sierra Leone stands at a critical juncture where safeguarding human rights and addressing climate change are imperative for sustainable progress. CHRDI’s policy brief stands as a rallying call for immediate, inclusive, and determined action to protect both the environment and the rights of its citizens.