6 Ensure environmental sustainability

Where we are?


In Sierra Leone, remaining forest cover is currently less than 5% of total forest and cannot be reversed by 2015. Biodiversity is still being lost in many parts of the country. Progress is being made in rural water supply, but is still a long way from reaching its target. Major towns with large populations are without adequate safe drinking water and the proportion of people with access to safe drinking water leveled off at 50% in 2008. It is therefore unlikely that MDG 7 will be met.

Logging, slash-and-burn agriculture and the cutting down of trees for use as fuel wood are the primary causes of deforestation in the country. The savannah is limited to the northern parts of the country and is increasingly being subjected to frequent and uncontrolled fires. The combined effects of poor farming practices with a steadily growing population have contributed to significant land degradation.

Sierra Leone’s participation at the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development was a milestone in raising national awareness on the need to integrate environmental concerns into the national development agenda. Follow-up meetings, such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg resulted in the implementation of a plan of action for environmental sustainability in Sierra Leone. The creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 provides the basis for designing effective national programmes for environmental protection and management.

Sustainable development principles should be incorporated into policies and programmes in order to reverse the loss of environmental resources. Many sustainable principles have already been incorporated into law and policies, but require concerted medium to long-term implementation support. The achievement of the MDG targets for Goal 7 requires addressing the following:

  • Capacity building of institutions involved in the coordination and implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements.
  • Capacity building in data collection and analysis.
  • Increasing awareness at local and national levels to implement sustainable practices and integrated ecosystem management practices.
  • Provide support to develop a national water and sanitation strategy that targets the protection and conservation of water supplies across Sierra Leone.
  • Invest in low-cost housing schemes and technologies.
  • Encourage the use of energy-efficient technologies.
  • Address biodiversity hot spots and the creation of full national parks in Gola and Loma.

UNDP's work in Sierra Leone

1.69 years
until 2015

1990 2015
Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums