October 24, 2016 By Jariatu S. Bangura
In an effort to meet some of the country’s international treaty obligations under the United Nations, Members of Parliament last Thursday ratified five United Nations conventions on the environment and the charter of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The conventions include the Paris Treaty on Climate Change, Minamata Convention, Rotterdam Convention, Basel Convention, Nagoya Protocols and the Charter of the Organisation Islamic Cooperation.
Presenting the protocols and conventions, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Samura Kamara, said the strategic relevance of the instruments that were ratified by lawmakers was that the impact of environmental damage on the lives of people around the world, especially in developing countries, was a major security threat and global concern.
He said the issue has made it necessary for the UN General Assembly to negotiate and adopt a number of resolutions and undertake numerous activities to save planet earth from total destruction.
He admitted that Sierra Leone has only adhered to few out of the 120 and more UN conventions and protocols relating to the environment- the Kyoto Protocols, the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer, Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention to Combat Desertification in countries that experience drought among others.
“As a state party, sierra Leone is required to meet its obligations under the provisions of all five instruments, while at the same time accessing the support needed, which includes technical and financial for the various national implementation agencies involved in the management, control and the protection of our environment,” he said.
He added that, “the implementing, monitoring and enforcement agencies would effectively carry out their mandates guided by the international legal instruments of the different treaties under consideration, while promoting our government and the national interest.”
He maintained that the implementation required strong inter and intra ministerial, department and agency (MDA) coordination and collaboration, as well as between the country and the wider international community.
He said the implementing MDAs include the Environment Protection Agency, Standards Bureau, National Revenue Authority, law enforcement agencies, chemical inspectors in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, universities, security agencies, to name but a few.
In her statement, Parliamentary Chairperson on Foreign Affairs Committee, Hon. Mabinty Fornah, disclosed that as at October 2016, 191 countries across the world have signed the Paris Agreement while 81 of those countries have ratified it.
She said only five countries have signed and ratified in West Africa, which she said was good as it would send a strong signal if Sierra Leone did ratify, adding that it would help the country to participate in the next climate change conference that would take place in Morocco.
She said concrete actions needed to be taken for the implementation of the agreement, as they believe that formidable support would be provided to farmers and fishermen on climate change practices.
Hon. Moiwai Momoh urged that prominence should be given to the convention because it would help protect the environment.