The Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone in its strides towards working with policy makers in the country for cogent actions towards environmental safety and security had led Members of Parliament of the Parliamentary Committee on Lands and the Environment to disaster prone areas in the city. Present among the delegation were the Chairman of the Committee on Lands and the Environment, Hon. Quintin Salia-Konneh and the Deputy Director Planning Policy and Research at the Environment Protection Agency, Mr. Sheikh Ahmed Tunis who ably represented the Executive Chairman of the Agency, Dr. Foday Moriba Jaward. The purpose of the visit was to avail the MPs with firsthand information on the disaster caused by the heavy downpour of rain in those affected Communities and to solicit Parliamentary actions.
The delegation visited the Matormeh and the Colbot Communities which were severely affected by the recent mudslide and flooding disasters respectively.
Besides the August 14th 2018 mudslide, the Matormeh/Gbangbayila Community also recently experienced cracks which triggered government officials from the Office of National Security, UNOPS, Sierra Leone Geological Engineers and the Environment Protection Agency to visit the said community and come up with a comprehensive plan of action. During the recent visit by government Officials, Community people were warned to desist from cohabiting around the vicinity of the new cracks.
While at the Matormeh Community on the 20th of August 2019, Mr. Sheikh Tunis informed the Parliamentarians that within the month of August alone, there had been up to three mudslides in the said Community, adding that the entire community has many cracks which the EPASL and government in general is particularly worried about.
Hon. Quentin Salia-Konneh while stressing on the need for the Community people to stay away from the places where cracks have been detected also informed the people that their lives were more precious than anything they could think of on earth. He further reechoed the need for the Community people to adhere to the recommendation of the technical team which had earlier advised them to stay away from disaster prone areas.
The Members of Parliament also used the visit to acquaint themselves properly with more information on the recent disasters and hoped to come up with more concrete actions within the shortest possible time after the recession of Parliament.
The Environment Protection Agency, Sierra Leone (EPASL) has on Thursday 22nd August 2019, suspended the operations of five companies engaged in quarrying activities within the Okra Hill area. The companies are: Great Africa Sierra Leone Limited; Xingwang Business Quarry; Haoxin Quarry; First Investment International Company and Afroaz International (SL) Ltd.
The suspension of operations was due to the refusal by the aforementioned companies to either renew their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) License or complete the process for the acqusition of an EIA license. The Environmental Compliance and Enforcement department of the Agency issued the enforcement notices to each of the companies in accordance with section 53 of the EPA Act and warned that no operations should be undertaken by the affected companies until they have fully complied with the EPA Act and that they have one month to do so. According to the Team Lead, Mr Lamin Tarawalie who is the EPASL Deputy Director of Field Operations and Extension (FOE), the suspension of operations of these companies was geared towards ensuring that those whose activities impact or have a likelihood to impact the environment are effectively monitored to ensure a quality of environment that is safe for all. He further stated that the EPA remains supportive of investors but that investment must not be at the expense of the environment.
The acquisition of an EIA license is a condition precedent. In other words, companies that are engaged in any of the activities slated in the First Schedule of the EPASL Act 2008 as amended in 2010 must first of all acquire their EIA license prior to the commencement of their operations. Under Sec53 of the EPA Act, the EPA has the power to suspend or shut down the operations of companies that are in violation of the Act. The acquisition of an Environmental Impact Assessment License is crucial, as it provides the Agency an opportunity to scrutinize the activities of companies and determine their level of compliance with the EPA Act.
The Executive Chairman of the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone, Professor Foday Moriba Jaward joined over 600 stakeholders comprising Ministers, Executive Secretary of the Green Climate Fund Secretariat, National Designated Authorities or focal points, Accredited Entities, and others from developing and developed countries to explore how the Fund can support them in achieving their climate ambitions. The Executive Chairman of the EPASL took the opportunity to romance with key environment and Climate Change Specialists as well as the former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon who also earlier on emphasized on the importance of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in meeting global commitment to mobilize USD100 billion of Climate Finance by developed countries annually by 2020.
The conference is held from the 19–23 August 2019, in Songdo, Republic of Korea as part of the GCF’s contribution to the achievement of the Paris Agreement, ahead of 2020 when countries will be called to raise their climate ambition targets or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). With over USD 5 billion worth of climate action projects around the world, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is playing a major role in helping developing countries raise and realize their climate ambitions.
GCF’s Global Programming Conference serves as a platform for high level-dialogue on country and entity programming plans with GCF. The Conference will invite developing countries to discuss the demand for GCF resources that move them towards low-emission and climate resilient pathways in line with the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. It will also be a platform for Accredited Entities to demonstrate how they can help countries realize this demand consistent with their capacities and competencies, and for GCF to consider ways in which its strategy and programming for the first replenishment period could respond to such demands.
Prof. Jaward was given an opportunity to make a presentation in the presence of hundreds of delegates during the Climate Conference in South Korea. Making his presentation on theme “building an ambitious pipeline of transformational climate interventions in Sierra Leone”, the Executive Chairman of the EPASL said in 2015, the country developed a Climate Change Policy together with a low emissions and climate resilient strategy. He said “the goal of the strategy and the accompanying action plan is to prepare the government and people of Sierra Leone to limit their carbon footprint; reduce or minimize risks by improving adaptive capacity, adapt by reducing vulnerability to climate change impacts and increasing the resilience and sustainable wellbeing of all citizens; and to leverage new opportunities and facilitate collaboration in-country and with regional and global communities”.
He also said the negative biophysical and socio-economic impacts of climate change will be minimized and the population will be well positioned to harness new opportunities presented by climate change financing windows for the implementation of low emissions and climate resilient development policies and programs. He added that “the response strategy and action plan aims to maintain the emission levels of Sierra Leone relatively low or neutral by reducing her carbon footprint and by following green growth pathways in all economic sectors” as well as further aims to strengthen the county’s resilience to climate change and its adaptive capacity, particularly in vulnerable economic sectors and communities.
According to Professor Jaward, as a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement, Sierra Leone through the EPASL had put forward wide ranging plans to pursue climate actions through the implementation of the Nationally Determine Contributions (NDCs) which has a wide range of priority actions which “we want to build into ambitious pipeline projects for funding by the Green Climate Fund (GCF)”.
Furthermore, Dr. Jaward told the gathering that the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone had drafted a National Climate Finance Framework (NCFF) that will enhance the establishment of a National Climate Change Fund (NCCF) which will help the country to mobilize resources both domestic and international from various climate financing windows including the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The country also has other related policies like the National Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Forestry, National Environment, National Land, and the National water and sanitation policies. All of these he said “influence the country’s decision especially in the implementation of a climate resilient solution”.
Commenting further on the support the country had received, Dr. Jaward said Sierra Leone had received tremendous support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) ranging from the country technical support from the regional GCF Advisor in drafting the General Readiness Proposal and Pipeline Support, approved capacity building support for the EPA accreditation process, guidance on Readiness proposal which has been submitted for approval and guidance on the drafting of the country’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP).
Sierra Leone has a national policy on Private Public Partnership (PPP) that supports the private sector engagement to facilitate economic growth and development. Dr. Jaward said most of the frameworks developed had an element of private sector involvement especially in the implementation of priority areas and “we are building synergies with existing private sector programmes for expansion” adding that “we hope to use the readiness funds when approved to expand the scope of operations and create a platform for private sector to meet and exchange ideas and support the effective implementation of climate initiatives already spelt-out in the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution document”.
The country has also developed a National Midterm Development Plan (NMTDP 2019-2013) which is the country’s new development trajectory document. “This shows our aspirations to sustainable development and environmental sustainability with an element of a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) Framework for government monitoring of deliverables”. This document specifies the role of the private sector in stimulating economic growth and development and it highlights key interventions to facilitate private sector involvement in developing and implementing an ambitious pipeline programme.
It is hoped that such a high level engagement would help to mobilize much needed revenue for the implementation of green and environmentally sustainable projects within various sectors in Sierra Leone.