The Ministry of Environment has on Tuesday 3 March hosted the African Environment and Wangari Maathai day 2020 with the theme ‘our resources – our future”. The event was held at the Miatta Conference Center, BrookFields in Freetown.
African Environment Day is celebrated annually on 3 March and was established by the Organization of African Unity in 2002 as a way of raising awareness on the pressing environmental challenges facing the continent.
Wangari Muta Maathai was a renowned Kenyan social, environmental and political activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya.
The Minister of Environment, Professor Foday M. Jaward in his welcome address stated that Sierra Leone was proud to be the host for the African Environment Day 2020.
Prof. Jaward said as Africans we have come to terms with the fact that we cannot continue with business as usual, and added that natural resource exploitation without regard for environmental protection is detrimental.
Professor David Francis Chief Minister of the Republic of Sierra Leone served as the Keynote speaker on behalf of H.E Julius Maada Bio. When delivering the keynote address Prof. Francis said Sierra Leone hosting the 2020 edition of the African Environment and Wangari Maathai Day celebrations was clear that the country was stable and peaceful.
Emphasizing on the theme ‘our resources – our future’, Prof. Francis said our strategic resources in the continent has not been beneficial to us in the continent and stressed that with a concerted effort, there was hope for the future.
Prof. Francis added that the theme for this year focuses on the natural resources aimed at addressing the numerous environmental challenges facing the continent.
Yvonne Aki-Sawyer Mayor of Freetown Municipality in her statement said in order to combat Climate Change and other social challenges in the country, the Freetown City Council was already in preparation to plant about a million trees in the city annually.
The African Environment Day celebration is supported by the African Union and the Government of Sierra Leone and its partners. The theme for the celebration of this day also draws attention to the enormous opportunities that Africa has in the sustainable management of its natural resources.
Since 2012, the African Environment Day has been celebrated in conjunction with Wangari Maathai Day, in order to pay tribute to the late Nobel Laureate’s green legacy.
The relevance of having the African Environmental Day commemoration in Sierra Leone is that it will lead to increased awareness on the challenges facing our environment; enhance sustainable management of resources for sustainable development; sensitization and awareness-raising on women’s access to land and other natural resources which hitherto, has been encumbered by the inequitable use of natural resources; expose the country to more tourist attractions as well as foreign direct investment and strengthens cooperation on several Multilateral Environment Agreements to which Sierra Leone is a party.