By Foday Moriba Conteh
As part of their efforts towards tackling environmental degradation and the negative effects of climate change in the country, Shout Climate Change Africa (SCCA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Environmental & Climate Change, has on Monday 12th June 2023 launched Sierra Leone’s 1st Climate Change Manifesto with the theme: “Leaders Must Lead the Safety of Our Environment.” The launching ceremony was held at the Radisson Blu Hotel on Aberdeen in Freetown.
Speaking during the launch, the Chief Executive Officer /Founder of Shout Climate Change Africa, Finnex John Asibor, said Climate Change increases the appearance of more violent weather phenomena such as drought, increased fires incidents/accidents, the death of animal and plant species, flooding from rivers and lakes, the creation of climate refugees and destruction of the food chain and economic resources, especially in developing countries like Sierra Leone.
He added that Climate Change has proven to negatively impact development gains as well as impeding planned development efforts, especially for women, children, the elderly and the physically challenged (UNFCCC LDCs 2015 Position paper) adding that fighting climate change is therefore vital for sustainable economic development.
Finnex John Asibor pointed out that the causes of Climate Change and related environmental challenges/disasters hinge on our actions, especially how the political leaders can tackle it through strong commitments and Climate Action.
Commenting on the rationale for the Citizen’s Manifesto on Climate Change, he said in 2021, before the UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, Sierra Leone prepared her Second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC2) in accordance with the Paris Agreement and SCCA was part of validating NGOs that were happy with the chains of wide varieties of issues proposed for addressing Sierra Leone’s Climate Change challenges.
The Chief Executive Officer maintained that SCCA has observed that some of the citizens have seen the link between addressing climate change challenges and accompanying opportunities from job creation to economic/national development.
It is against this backdrop that SCCA carried out the “Perception Survey of Citizen’s Manifesto on Climate Change”.
He noted that the result of the survey has been developed into the present document and been launched as Sierra Leone’s Climate Change Manifesto to guide the various aspirants of the coming June 24th 2023 General Election in the drafting of their Parties’ Manifestoes knowing what the people feel and expect their incoming leaders to do with respect to “Climate Change and the Environment”.
The Executive Director of Action aid-Sierra Leone, Foday Bassie Swarray, commended the Shout Climate Change Africa for carrying out this perception survey which has produced a manifesto, stating that he wants political parties to consider this document in implementing environment and climate change related issues in their plans of activities for the next five years.
He informed that this is the first time he is witnessing an organization developing a climate change manifesto for political leaders to incorporate it into their manifestos.
Foday Bassie Swarray called on everyone to take climate change issues seriously as we are seeing the impact of climate change in our daily lives. Adding that the media should take this message to relevant authorities for them to take necessary action in tackling environmental degradation and the negative effects of climate change.
In his presentation on the Manifesto, the Environmental Officer, Shout Climate Change Africa, Samuel Jumah Kamara, said as Sierra Leone drawing to the close of its present political phase for the drawing board for either a renewal of a fresh mandate to the present regime or a transfer of same the mandate to another system, Shout Climate Change Africa conducted the citizen’s perception survey on climate change on what they know about the issue and what they think should be done to address climate change challenges.
He noted that the result of the survey is the reflection of this document that SCCA has titled : “Citizen’s Perception Manifesto on Climate Change for Consideration/Inclusion in the Political Parties’ Manifestos for the coming June 2023 General Election”.
Samuel Jumah Kamara stated that it is prescriptive for the political parties, but as a listening Government or a Government in waiting, each political party is reminded of the people’s expectation in addressing climate change and expressed hopes that the document will provide the necessary guidance as they are in the process of developing their political manifestos of what they will be doing in addressing the country’s development challenges.
He said that SCCA is with the strong conviction that this is the best time to “Shout Now or Never” for Political Parties to increase their commitment for the necessary Climate Action (SDG13) for the June 2023 General Election so that citizens can audit them in the 2028 election campaign.
The Environmental Officer, however, said the Manifesto recommended a commitment statement in the manifesto to address the contributing factors to climate change from National to Community action, adding that it also outline general actions that the party will do to address present national/global Climate Change challenges including accompanying budgetary allocation for necessary Climate Action.
He maintained that to support/encourage investment in organic manure and other non-environment depleting practices/production for the growth of the Sierra Leone economy a ban must be placed on the exportation of timbers and logs to enhance the country’s national climate actions that is being threatened by the timber and logging markets.
Representatives from different institutions including Rokel Commercial Bank, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance expressed appreciation to Shout Climate Change Africa for the laudable initiative in launching the Climate Change Manifesto.
They further made commitments towards tackling environmental degradation and the negative effects of climate change in the country.