Sierra Leone celebrates World Environmental Day 2013 and launches Small Grants Programme

05 Jun 2013

imagehundreds of young people from various secondary schools in freetown participated in this year's world enviromental day (UNDP/ C. Thomas)

Freetown, June 5th 2013: The UN family in collaboration with the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone, various government departments working on environment have  organized two separate events, including the launch of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme to mark this year’s World Environmental Day, June 5th in Freetown.

At the British Council Hall, Tower Hill in Freetown, where the GEF Small Grants Programme was launched, UNDP Deputy Country Director and acting Country Director, Mohamed Abchir said “... the SGP is an opportunity to simultaneously support local community-based initiatives while meeting national commitments and global obligations.”

He added that UNDP designed the SGP in 1992 on the eve of the Rio Earth Summit as a dedicated GEF grants making window for civil society noting that by channeling financial and technical support direct to community based organisations (CBOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), poor and often remote communities will be reached through initiatives that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing wellbeing and livelihoods.

National Coordinator of the GEF SGP in Sierra Leone, Abu-Bakar Massaquoi told the over 100 member audience which included various ministries, civil society and environmental activists that implementing the first set of grants in Sierra Leone has shown that “small actions can attain greater impacts.” He added that the Small Grants Programme has brought together different partners at different levels all committed to empowering local stakeholders with equity and sustainability.

Mr Massaquoi further noted that the GEF SGP employs a bottom-up approach that is flexible and accommodates local diversity and change, adding that grants programme will continue to support targeted community-based interventions in the five GEF focal areas including sustainable biodiversity based production, low-carbon, climate resilient technologies, sustainable management of carbon stocks,  community based adaptation and disaster risk reduction , sustainable land management, trans-boundary water body management, community phase out of toxic chemicals and mainstreaming gender considerations in community-based environmental initiatives.

The World Environmental Day (WED) celebration then moved to the Miatta Conference centre where hundreds of people, including school children gathered to discuss and debate the issues of this year’s theme: ”Think. Eat. Save.” The United Nations, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food security, the International Centre for Research in Agro Forestry, COOPI an international NGO and the UNDP environment team collaborated to use the occasion of WED to raise awareness regarding the issues of improved agricultural practices, market value adding and the reduction of waste.

Mrs Haddijatou Jallow, Executive Chairperson, Environment Protection Agency-Sierra Leone told the audience that individual members of the public have to make decisions to be more food aware and avoid food waste. “Adopt as many eco-friendly life styles as you can and make them habits. Compost your organic food waste to reduce the amount of emissions. Do not buy more food that you really need and eat organic and locally grown foods.” Mrs Jallow admonished the audience which included young people from various schools and communities.  

On the issue of food waste, UNDP acting Country Director, Mohamed Abchir stated that “Every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food which is about one third of the global food production is either wasted or lost. This amount is equivalent to the amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.” Mr Abchir also encouraged people in Sierra Leone not to waste food noting that food waste poses a massive drain on natural resources and is significant contributor to harmful environmental impacts.

DR Bendu, Senior Environment Officer in the Ministry of Land, Environment and Country Planning said that wastefulness is mainly affecting poor countries where hunger and malnutrition is a major bulwark to social advancement. He called on Sierra Leone to engage on a new path of a sustainable future.

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