The Minister of Environment, Prof. Foday Moriba Jaward has handed over the position to head the Agency to the new Executive Chairman of the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone. The ceremony which took place at the Agency’s Headquarters in Freetown was witnessed by a dedicated team of Staff members who will miss the former Executive Chairman. Staff members are however comforted and encouraged by the credentials of Prof. Jaward’s successor in the person of Dr. Bondi Gevao.
Dr. Gevao’s appointment came after the former Executive Chairman was appointed by President Julius Maada Bio to serve as the new Minister of the Environment. Dr. Gevao is an environmental organic chemist with expertise in a number of analytical techniques for measuring contaminants in the environment at trace levels. He has worked on many aspects of the sources and environmental fate of contaminants, studying chemical behaviour in the aquatic and terrestrial environments.
Since his appointment as Head of the EPASL, Prof. Jaward had brought significant changes to the institution. These include the establishment of an Environmental Court in the High Court of Sierra Leone; review of environmental impact assessment processes; alternative livelihood support to rural communities particularly in the agricultural sector, and strengthening of partnerships and environmental education across the country.
The new Executive Chairman was welcomed at the Agency by the Director of the EPASL, Momodu A. Bah. He welcomed Dr. Bondi to the premises of the Agency and further thanked the President of Sierra Leone for his wise decision in appointing Dr. Bondi to serve in the capacity of Executive Chairman of the Agency. He entreated Dr. Gevao to emulate his predecessor’s exemplary leadership qualities in handling the affairs of the Agency.
As Minister of the Environment, Prof. Jaward is expected to oversee the Environment Protection Agency after the EPA Act of 2008 would have been amended. Dr. Jaward thanked all his Staff of the Agency for working with him assiduously in the interest of the country.
The Minister of the Environment of Sierra Leone, Prof. Foday Moriba Jaward launched the Sierra Leone Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Coastal Landscape Complex (CCAP) report which sets the framework for a climate change adaptation plan that is geared towards increasing the resilience of coastal communities across Sierra Leone. The launching was done on the 6th February 2020 at the British Council Hall in Freetown marking this year’s World Wetlands Day celebration with the theme ‘Wetlands and Biodiversity’. The study which is now owned by the Government of Sierra Leone was done by the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change programme with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the Sierra Leone Coastal Landscape Comple
The Environment Protection Agency in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment, the West African Biodiversity and Climate Change Program and the Abidjan Convention had ended a three-day National Stakeholders Workshop from the 10th on to the 12th February 2020 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Freetown. The purpose of the Workshop is to develop an Action Plan for the Additional Protocols of the Abidjan Convention such as the Protocol for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (Bassam Protocol); the Protocol on Environmental Standards for offshore Oil and Gas activities (Malabo Protocol); the Protocol on Integrated Costal Zone Management (Pointe Noire Protocol) and the Protocol on Sustainable Mangrove Management otherwise known as the Calabar Protocol.
The Action Plan will present a comprehensive list of activities to be implemented both at regional and national levels to ensure the proper operationalization of the Protocols. The main objective of the consultation is to ensure the integration of stakeholders’ concerns, priorities and harmonization with various national plans and strategies.
The workshop attracted key representation from environmental stakeholders in the country and the African Sub-region. The Minister of the Environment, Professor Foday Moriba Jaward said the National consultation serves as a roadmap to transforming the written text of the protocols into viable actions for the implementation of the additional protocols to the Abidjan convention. ‘The action plan to be developed will present a comprehensive list of aligned and prioritized actions to be implemented at the national level to ensure the proper operationalization of the additional protocols’ he added.
Commenting further, Prof. Jaward said “as a government we note that, in the context of global environmental governance and cooperation, the regional level represents a critical middle ground between the global and national levels. So recognizing the good governance of the marine environment for seas that borders more than one state falls into regional rules, the essence of developing additional protocols to address the issues in the marine and coastal environment in the West, Central and Southern African region becomes a brilliant initiative”.
The Minister also said that most are ‘familiar with the issues facing our coastal and marine areas, for which management measures are needed to facilitate through the rational planning of activities and by ensuring that the environment and landscape are taken into account in harmony with economic, social and cultural developments’. He said though oil development has wide ranging socio-economic advantage, it has associated environmental impacts that will lead to habitat loss and destruction of living marine resources.
Sierra Leone is not presently an oil producing country but as a responsible government, it is now on contingency planning and preparedness in the form of developing national environment standards for offshore oil and gas production which is a sound initiative to address any future problem.
In line with government’s ambition to address environmental issues and to build national environmental resilience – which is a key milestone of the medium term national development plan 2019-2023, ‘the protocols will serve as the overall framework to foster effective and sustainable management of our coastal resources and help to address emerging issues and climate change’, the Minister reechoed.
The UN Environment administers the convention on then cooperation for protection, management and development of the marine and coastal environment of the Atlantic Coast of West, Central and Southern African region, otherwise known as the Abidjan Convention.
Mr. Kenan Mogultay, from the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change Program in his statement highlights the importance of the Abidjan Convention protocols while noting that Sierra Leone continues to show commitment on the marine and coastal zone protection and management. He said the national action plans defines roles and responsibility and the more reason for the national stakeholders workshop.
The Executive Director of the Centre for Maritime Law and Security Africa, Mr. Ali Kamal-Deen it was an honor to be part of the workshop in Sierra Leone since the consultative workshop will pave the future of the country for offshore oil and gas exploration.
The Minister of the Environment, Prof. Foday Moriba Jaward had launched the Sierra Leone Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Coastal Landscape Complex (CCAP) report which sets the framework for a climate change adaptation plan that is geared towards increasing the resilience of coastal communities across Sierra Leone. The launching was done at the British Council Hall in Freetown marking this year’s World Wetlands Day celebration with the theme ‘Wetlands and Biodiversity’.
The study which is now owned by the Government of Sierra Leone was done by the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change programme with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The CCAP offers a mechanism for implementing, tracking, evaluating, and communicating adaptation actions and results, which are critical to the climate change adaptation plan’s overall success.
As a party to the Ramsar Convention, Sierra Leone joins the world to celebrate World Wetlands Day to remind all about the inextricable relationship that humans and wetlands share. Apart from being a natural habitat for marine species, wetlands also provide clean water, carbon storage, promote tourism, support human health and boost economies.
Before launching the report, the Environment Minister reechoed that the destruction of wetlands and other ecologically sensitive areas cannot be allowed to continue unabated adding that the fight to sustainably manage our wetlands is not a ‘one man’s fight’.
He said ‘the fight to protect wetland biodiversity heralded a significant milestone with the signing of the Ramsar Convention in the Iranian city of Ramsar on 2nd February 1971. Since 1997, the world has continued to celebrate the signing of the convention annually as a way of raising public awareness about the immense benefits that we derive from wetlands and also about the importance of conserving wetlands as well as their wise use’.
He noted that ‘the rampant display of disregard for wetlands is manifested in several ways; these include but not limited to cutting down of mangroves which are a form of carbon sink and breeding ground for fish; construction of buildings in wetland areas; unsustainable mining; embankments, dumping of waste and the use of hazardous chemicals like mercury and other pollutants’ which had led to a rapid decrease in marine life, significant water shortages, flooding and climate change.
According to the Minister, ‘the Sierra Leone River Estuary, which includes the Aberdeen Creek, is the only wetland area in Sierra Leone recognized under the Ramsar convention. It is disturbing to note that the Aberdeen Creek and other wetlands across the country have suffered massive encroachment by members of the public despite series of government actions against these encroachers. These government actions include the reforestation of the Aberdeen creek and the series of engagements with councils for the protection of wetlands in their respective cities and towns especially Bo and Makeni which are prone to flooding’.
He also said that the government of His Excellency the President, Rtd. Brigadier Dr. Julius Madaa Bio attaches great importance to the protection of the environment which includes protection of wetlands adding that the creation of the new Ministry of Environment is a testament to his unwavering commitment to sustainable environmental protection and governance in Sierra Leone.
He reiterated that the adequate supply of pipe borne water particularly to residents in the Western Area continues to face serious challenges for government as well as the wanton destruction of wetlands being a major contributor to the perineal issue of water shortage in the country. He said ‘people continue to encroach on water catchment areas notwithstanding that some of these catchment areas are located in protected areas.
However, the new Ministry of the Environment is presently collaborating with other MDAs like the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, the Environment Protection Agency, the National Protected Area Authority and the Guma Valley Water Company in other to work out sustainable solutions to resuscitate depleted water catchment areas.
The Government of Sierra Leone through the newly created Ministry of the Environment have played host to the African Environment and Wangari Maathai day 2020 with the theme ‘our resources – our future”. The Day which was commemorated on the 3rd March 2020 at the Miatta Conference Center attracted guests from across the African region as well as the host country.
African Environment Day, celebrated annually on 3 March, was established by the Organization of African Unity in 2002 as a way of raising awareness on the pressing environmental challenges facing the continent. 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, inter alia, 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.
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.
The Chief Minister of Sierra Leone, Prof. David J. Francis served as the Keynote Speaker during the commemoration. While he was delivering his statement on behalf of His Excellency the President, he said Sierra Leone’s hosting of the 2020 edition of the African Environment and Wangari Maathai Day celebrations was a clear manifestation of the fact that the country was stable and peaceful. Emphasizing on the theme of the celebration, Prof. Francis said ‘our strategic resources in the continent have 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 which focuses on the natural resources aimed at addressing the numerous environmental challenges facing the continent.
Prof. Wangari Maathai had played a great role in the world the world in general and Africa in particular in terms of environmental management and sustainability. Prof. Francis called on fellow Africans to adopt the legacies of the first African Woman to have won the Nobel Peace Price.
To demonstrate the seriousness on issues of environment and national development in the country, the President of Sierra Leone, H.E Dr. Julius Maada Bio established the Ministry of environment to ensure environmental sustainability and Prof. Francis said with the leadership and caliber of Dr. Foday M. Jaward at the new environment Ministry, the Sierra Leonean environment can be managed well.
In his welcome address, the Minister of the Environment, Prof. Jaward said Sierra Leone was proud as a nation to host the African Environment Day. Stressing on the need for change and adopt new measures towards the environment, Prof. Jaward said as Africans, ‘we have come to terms with the fact that we cannot continue with business as usual’. He said natural resource exploitation without regard for environmental protection is detrimental and therefore called Africa to act now.
He commented that Women played a key role in the management of natural resources but that often times they had been the ones left behind in taking actions towards environmental protection. He applauded the AU Commission for taking resolutions that would ensure the inclusion of women in the protection of the environment.
There is still a gender gap that inhibits women in terms of their productive role in environment governance. Prof. Jaward said closing that gap will foster economic growth in developing countries.
Her Worship the Mayor of the Freetown Municipality, Madam Yvone Aki Sawyer said in other to combat Climate Change and other social challenges I’m the country, the Freetown City Council was already in preparation to plant about a million trees in the city annually.
The Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission, H. E. Ambasador Josefa Sacko said Africa’s most extractive industries had sparked controversies in environmental management and had contributed to the devastation of the environment and economic structures. He said Africa doesn’t need to borrow from anyone if ‘we manage our resources well’. He added that the value of overseas development aid does not equate to the resources in Africa, adding that sustainable management of ‘our land and water resources will take us a long way towards environmental management’. He congratulated the Minister of the Environment and the government of Sierra Leone for hosting the African Environment Program this year which clearly shows the seriousness of the government of Sierra Leone towards addressing environmental issues. The celebrations would come to a conclusion on Wednesday 4th March with a tour of some key ecological sites within the Western Area.
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
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
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
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
As a responsible Government Agency working hard to ensure that the environment of Sierra Leone is effectively protected for human, plants and animal habitation, the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone has carried out monitoring exercise on Africell facilities in three Chiefdoms in Kailahun District in the Eastern Province.
This monitoring is part of routine activities undertaken by the Agency to
ensure that proponent adhere to guidelines as stated in the Environmental
Management Plan (EMP). It is a standard procedure as per the Environmental Impact Assessment License for the Agency to undertake regular follow up visits to ensure these facilities are managed in accordance with the established environmental best practice.
The monitoring exercise targeted three Africell facilities in Pendembu in
the Upper Bambara Chiefdom, Daru in the Jawei Chiefdom and Nianahun in the Njaluahun Chiefdom. The monitoring was done based on the environmental footprint of Africell focusing on the level of air quality in the facility,noise pollution, waste management, emission, health and safety of staff amongst others. This inspection was conducted by a team of EPASL Staff from the Bo Regional Office and Africell Consultant and Engineers.
In all the stations visited, no significant issue of environmental
consequence was observed; Decibel readings from Noise meter were good, which means that it was at acceptable international standard. This was very important since these stations are situated in nearby residential areas, it was imperative for EPASL to assess how much impact this will have on those resident in the area. Also Emission Tester was used to measure the amount of emission which shows good.
This was largely due to the fact that the generators are fairly new and
regular maintenance is done every two hundred and fifty (250 hrs.) hours. It was observed that waste was properly managed as there was no evidence of waste during the time of visit. Also the storage of fuel was very conducive as it is bonded with hydro carbon trap to control spillage.
However, they were advised to remove the old fuel tank that was no longer in use from the station in Pendembu, display safety signs like “no smoking” in all three stations, display relevant environmental management plan policies, display Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) License and in the near future to transition to renewable energy which are more cleaner, sustainable and environmentally friendly.
This is very significant as the motive of the monitoring team was not only
to identify fault but to also provide professional advice to Africell with the
view to helping them improve on their environmental footprint thereby
mitigating climate change impact.
Moreover, EPASL appreciates strides being put in place by Africell to keep
pace with best practices that ensures sustainable environmental management. All the facilities visited were enclosed in fence and protected by Security Guards.
What was even more significant is the hybrid system Africell has put in place to manage power generated at these stations.
There is a rechargeable battery which keeps power for a couple of hours
which minimizes generator use considerably reducing noise and emission. This is a move that will improve air quality in the areas and mitigate Climate Change Impact.
On the whole, Mr. Syl Kamara a Consultant who works for Africell and was
part of the exercise commended the EPASL for regularly conducting monitoring exercises. He said this will contribute to the sustainable management of the environment and help proponents like Africell improve on its environmental footprint and adhere to best practices that will make the environment conducive for human, plants and animal habitation.
The Chairman Bo District Council said Environment was critical for the peaceful existence of people in Sierra Leone. Joseph Bindi made the statement during a one-day consultative forum in Bo organized by the Environment Protect Agency Sierra Leone EPASL with over 200 participants drawn from MDAs and other sectors within the East and Southern region including the local district councils, security forces, paramount chiefs, members of parliaments, Civil society and the media. He said the forum was aimed at giving opportunities to all sectors to adopt and enforce policies that would help to protect and maintain the environment noting Sierra has over the years experienced worst environmental degradation. He said the country was yarning towards development adding development will never come if relevant actions were not taken to maintain a friendly environment. The Paramount Chief Prince Boima Kakua chiefdom Bo said decentralization was crucial in addressing challenges of environmental issues. He expressed frustration over lack of distinction between those he referred to as criminals to environmental degradation and human rights issues including law enforcement on environmental issues. He said most often advocates mount social pressure on environmental law enforcement structures aimed at tracking down defaulters of environmental issues. He said there were already several laws on environmental protection noting compliance with the law was a major challenge. He called on all stake holders to adopt the character of self- regulation and discipline including promotion of issues on environmental protection for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans. Delivering a key note address Momodu Alrashid Bah, Director Environment Protection Agency said the discussion would prioritize key environmental issues for effective collaboration among relevant stake holders in the environment sector in order to promote sound environmental governance and management in Sierra Leone. He disclosed Sierra Leone has been identified by experts as disaster prone as a result of what he called irrational behaviors and unsustainable practices in handling the environment and its natural resources. Mr. Bah added environmental problems were already costing and devastating the inhabitants of Sierra Leone
including damage to homes, businesses and crops, and increased social cost on Sierra Leoneans. He recalled the recent disasters in the country including mudslide, bush fire and flooding noting those awkward developments should remind Sierra Leoneans of their responsibilities to take concrete actions in addressing environmental challenges and ensure strong and resilient communities across the country. He expressed frustration that the country was currently facing several environmental challenges ranging from deforestation, wild bush fire, environmental pollution, and misuse of hazardous chemicals including mercury, improper waste management, irresponsible mining and timber logging among others. He added that if those challenges were not addressed the country‟s development gains would be hindered and undermined. He informed participants that EPASL has however developed environmental policies and regulations that would promote sound environmental management and quality control.