Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – Professor Alhaji Njai, the Board Chair of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, has asserted that Sierra Leone’s progress in combating climate change exists mainly on paper, lacking substantial implementation. He conveyed this message during an interview with Awoko Newspaper at the Bintumani International Conference Center in Aberdeen, Freetown, on November 24, 2023. The occasion marked the launch of the Climate Change Network (CLINET), supported by TROCAIRE Sierra Leone, under the slogan “tinap for climate justice.”
Professor Njai emphasized that the establishment of a climate change network in Sierra Leone signals the country’s initial steps towards organizing advocacy efforts on climate-related issues. While acknowledging some progress in areas like loss and damage, adaptation, and climate justice, he highlighted the prevailing challenges, including deforestation, flooding, and uncontrolled urbanization.
“On paper, we are making a lot of progress, but in practice, we are not,” Professor Njai commented. He noted the persistence of issues such as deforestation, timber logging, and sand mining, suggesting a misalignment between plans and actions.
The esteemed professor urged a more significant focus on merging efforts with tangible actions at both the community and national levels. Despite the establishment of institutions addressing climate change, he stressed the necessity for concrete actions to address issues like water scarcity, air quality, and access to energy.
Professor Njai also linked climate change to an increased risk of infectious diseases, pointing out its potential impact on healthcare systems. He emphasized the importance of empowering communities, making them aware of climate change, and creating resilient and liveable environments.
During the launch, thematic working groups were announced, covering technology, gender and social inclusion, mitigation and just transition, adaptation and resilience, and research and knowledge management. The vision of the network is to ensure climate-resilient and sustainable development in Sierra Leone, with core values centred on transparency, accountability, integrity, equity, justice, resilience, and commitment.
In supporting the network’s goals, various stakeholders stressed the critical role of finding solutions to energy challenges, effective communication of climate policies, and the collection of data to strengthen climate change advocacy. The official launch of CLINET marked a crucial step in Sierra Leone’s efforts to address climate change and build a more sustainable future. SKS/27/11/2023