Man using reclaimed land for small scale agriculture in Kono, east of Sierra Leone ©UNDP Sierra Leone/ Helen Mayelle

AT THE VALIDATION OF THE COASTAL CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION PLAN, SIERRA LEONE

Venue: Atlantic Hotel, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Date: April 2nd, 2019

Courtesy

Mr. Chairman, Representatives from The Government, private sector, distinguish guest, Greeting from UNDP.

I am honored to be here this morning to deliver a statement at this validation workshop on the coastal climate change adaptation plan. You will all agree with me that climate change is a global issue and climate hazards aggravate the pre-existing socioeconomic structures that determine poverty, marginalization and social exclusion. If left unaddressed, the stress induced by climate hazards will worsen (in respect of physical, financial, human, social and cultural assets). 

The coastal zones of Sierra Leone are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of global climate change. The combined effects of sea level rise and environmentally unsustainable practices of the natural resources (mangrove deforestation and sand mining) are expected to result in accelerated rates of coastal recession and destruction of infrastructure.

We are all witnesses to the fact that the coastal communities of Sierra Leone are already experiencing considerable impacts, notably on their livelihoods with reduced fishing productivity, ecosystem degradation and low farming activities. This negative impact severely affects social and major economic livelihoods of the communities. If the frequency and intensity of climate hazards increase, it will be harder for countries to end poverty and hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, promote sustainable agriculture and ensure healthy lives. Over 2 million people along the coastal areas in Sierra Leone are expected to be at risk from predicted sea level rise, therefore there is no better time than now! to tackle the risks posed by climate change.

The universal consensus attested by the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a unique opportunity to build climate change resilience for sustainable development. Sustainable Development Goal 13 affirms the urgency to combat climate change and its impacts by calling for actions to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity with respect to climate hazards; to integrate climate change measures into national policies. Strengthening institutional capacity along with improve education, and awareness-raising on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning will enhance resilience of communities against climate risks.

In order to address some of these challenges, I am happy to inform that the UNDP in collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone have secured a five-year funding from the Global Environmental Facility called “Adapting to Climate Change induced Coastal risk management in Sierra Leone”. The project seeks to address some of the major challenges facing government institutions in collecting and disseminating scientific and reliable climatic data; internalizing climate information into coastal development policy and plans and building support to coastal communities through education and awareness raising on climate risks and providing alternative, innovative activities to support adaptation in the coastal zone. The project seeks to remove any informational barriers that are preventing Sierra Leone, as a nation, to systematically manage coastal risks.

I am very delighted to see collaboration between the UNDP and WaBiCC on Coastal risk management challenges in Sierra Leone. These types of collaborations will ensure resources are effectively utilized towards achieving a common objective. That way, resources can be salvaged and redirected to other areas of need. If this trend continues, more development results will be achieved with the meager resources we have in the country and will accelerate our gains towards sustainable growth.

I believe this validation workshop will provide the platform for effective discussions and input by key stakeholders to ensure the Coastal adaptation plan stand the test of time for its effective use to the benefit to the people of Sierra Leone. I therefore encourage you all to fully participate in order to achieve the desired goal of the workshop.

I thank you all and wish you a successful deliberation.

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