The European Union in collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone has donated 1 million Euros in support of technical assistance and capacity building for the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency (SLEPA).
The objective of the project is to promote good environmental governance and improve sustainable development and management of the country’s natural resources. This will be achieved through strengthening of the institutional and organisational setup as well as through capacity building of the SLEPA to effectively deliver its mandate.
It is expected that the SLEPA project will produce, among other things, a harmonised and conducive policy and legislative framework to manage environment and natural resources. The project will also assist SLEPA in improving its technical capacity and managerial skills, while establishing a network and collaboration with relevant institutions towards the mainstreaming of the environment into other sectors.
Finally, the project will contribute to improved public awareness on environmental education throughout the country.
During the signing ceremony, the Project Officer of the EU Delegation, Mr Ritchie Jones, emphasised the EU’s commitment towards supporting environmental sector in Sierra Leone. The EU has so far supported the environment and forestry sector in the country with funds to the tune of 13 million Euros.
In her address, the Chairperson of SLEPA, Jatou Jallow expressed her institution’s appreciation and hopes that the programme will lay a firmer foundation towards environmental management. She however pointed that she hopes experts coming in as technical assistants will be coming with new ideas that will be beneficial to the institution. She continued that the government is putting great emphasis on the environment to the point that the present SLEPA offices will have to be relocated at the President’s office. Madam Jallow however warned against the ‘wholesale’ importation of foreign policies that will not merge comfortably within the Sierra Leone framework.
In brief, the project envisages addressing the urgent need for the environmental integration and mainstreaming of environment in the public and private sector towards sustainable economic development in Sierra Leone. It will support SLEPA to evolve the necessary capacity in its ambition to review existing sector policies; also in relation to the country’s fight against the negative effects of climate change and lay the foundation for integrating environmental concerns in various line ministries and strengthen the capacity and skills of SLEPA.
Based on a well-established network with all relevant stakeholders within the environmental sector, the project will strengthen SLEPA’s capacity to ensure the mainstreaming of environment, giving particular importance to environmental management instruments (e.g. EIA, SEA) and their enforcement. Efforts will also go into increasing SLEPA’s capacity in natural resources management, biodiversity conservation and climate change.