October 7, 2019
By Jariatu S. Bangura
The European Union Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Tom Vens, has called on respective authorities and young people across the country to design a policy on the use of plastic bags in order to address climate change.
He was speaking at the British Council Hall last Friday on the EU’s approach to climate change and the role of youth in building a sustainable society during the observance of climate diplomacy week, in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Green and Society for Climate Change Communication.
He said funding on the ban use of plastic bags will help minimise the high rate of plastics gathering in the ocean, which destroys the lives of ocean animals.
He said the policy will be of help to the community and the people living in it and that the issue of climate change needs partnership among stakeholders in order for people to be champions.
“The people should be part of it so as to create greater impact. Change is in the hands of the people. We want Sierra Leone to be like Kenya that was able to tackle the non-usage of plastic. The youth activists in that country championed the change. The youth have the power to change and they need to stand up and continue to put pressure on all concerned for the change that is needed,” he said.
He said climate change is not restricted to government, city councils, NGOs or big companies, but rather young people because they have greater power.
He said the EU is committed to a multilateral actions wherein all countries can come together to tackle climate change.
He said the Paris Agreement has been a greater step forward, but not a sufficient move to tackle climate change issues, adding that though they have made commitment, they will not manage to reach the objective they have set in Paris as a way to keep a global temperature rise well.
In his statement, Deputy Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment, Rex Bonafa said one-third of the population across the country comprises youth and that they contribute to the development of the country through their status.
He said in recent times, the government introduces tree planting project to commemorate the World Environment Day in August, adding that more effort has been made to involve youth in the fight against climate change.
He said government and donor partners have worked hard to reduce and improve on climate change, disclosing that a grant of $3.2bn has been provided by the EU to support the Freetown City Council in order to tackle unemployment and improve on improper dumping of waste.
He said plastic wastage has increased in recent years, which is a contributing factor for disaster and flooding in communities.
He said despite the effort made by partners and the government, there was need for frantic effort to reduce the climate change.
He said there was need also for government to partner with the youth and train them on how to minimise climate change, noting that government was on the move to review school curriculum and also help to mitigate climate change.
Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr said climate change affects young people than older folks, adding that poor sanitation in the municipality is causing a lot of problem as people are doing illegal dumping within their communities.
Said based on that, the FCC was trying to ensure that illegal dumping is eradicated within the city and that the council has also been involved in tree planting and by next year, they will be planting a million trees.