Sunday, 14 April 2024
Sunday, 14 April 2024

Major new climate resilience project launches in Sierra Leone

PEOPLE facing rising seas, fiercer storms and hotter weather along Sierra Leone’s coast will benefit from a significant new US$26.8 million initiative announced by the Green Climate Fund, Sierra Leone’s government and the NGO Save the Children.

The Sierra Leone Coastal Resilience Project will empower communities to plan for climate change and improve their livelihoods. Aiming to reach 260,000 people directly, with an additional one million people expected to benefit from the initiative, which includes the conservation and restoration of 1,500 hectares of mangrove ecosystems.

Working with local partners, the five-year project will increase people’s food and water security, support education, enhance social inclusion and boost health and wellbeing. Improving opportunities for women, youth and children – who are especially vulnerable to climate change – will be a key focus of the project across all five coastal districts of the West African country. This will include supporting more than 70 schools to increase their resilience and improve teaching on climate change. Planning and governance for climate adaptation will also be strengthened from a local through to a national level, paving the way for further investments.

Children in Sierra Leone are directly impacted by the climate crisis with an increasing number of climate-related shocks exacerbating child poverty and inequality through the disruption of family livelihoods, education, and negative effects on natural resources.

The Green Climate Fund’s grant of US$25 million is complemented by co-financing from the Government of Sierra Leone’s Environment Protection Agency, the law firm Clifford Chance and Jersey Overseas Aid.

Save the Children Australia CEO, Mat Tinkler, said:

“Children and families on Sierra Leone’s coast are facing increasing storms and floods, hotter temperatures and rising sea levels. This locally-led adaptation project will equip communities with the resources they need to adopt climate-resilient practices in farming, fishing, education, water use and ecosystem management. Importantly, it will enable community members, especially women and young people, to access more opportunities and develop businesses. Save the Children is proud to see its fourth project approved by the Green Climate Fund and to support communities in Sierra Leone to implement their plans to address the impacts of climate change, helping to safeguard their futures.”

Green Climate Fund Executive Director, Mafalda Duarte said:

“The Green Climate Fund is committed to supporting the most vulnerable and empowering local communities and nature to thrive together. We’re proud to partner with Save the Children to ensure frontline communities in Sierra Leone’s low-lying coastal areas have the tools to urgently build a more resilient future. I’m particularly pleased the initiative will work to restore 1,500 hectares of mangrove ecosystems, a powerful nature-based solution that needs further investment globally.”

Executive Chairman of the Environment Protection Agency, Government of Sierra Leone, Dr. Abu Bakar Massaquoi said:

“On behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone, I extend my deepest thanks to the esteemed members of the GCF board for their unwavering support and the approval of the coastal resilience project for our nation. This milestone represents far more than a mere approval. It is a testament to the collective recognition by the government and our partners, SCA and SCI, of the unique vulnerabilities faced by coastal communities and the imperative to take proactive measures to protect them. Through this project, we have an opportunity to implement innovative solutions, harnessing nature-based approaches, and sustainable practices to strengthen our coastal defences. We will work hand-in-hand with local communities, empowering them to be active participants in the decision-making process and ensuring that their voices are heard and valued.”

Deputy Carolyn Labey, Jersey’s Minister for International Development, said:

“It is a privilege to be partnered on the Sierra Leone Coastal Resilience Project and we are proud to see today’s official approval – an important milestone in vital efforts to tackle the climate crisis. This project focuses on one of Jersey’s key development priorities: the protection of fragile ecosystems through the provision of sustainable livelihoods for their inhabitants. We hope our contribution to the financing of the project will further empower coastal communities in Sierra Leone on the frontlines of climate change and ensure lasting impact for future generations.”

Tom Dunn, Global Pro Bono and Community Director at Clifford Chance said: 

“The Sierra Leone Climate Resilience Project sits at the critical intersection between environmental sustainability and social wellbeing, which is also a core part of our foundation’s work to help deliver positive and sustainable action in the communities around the world where our clients and the NGOs we work with do business. It’s an honour to collaborate with the Green Climate Fund, Sierra Leone’s government and our long-term partner Save the Children, and we look forward to continuing to work together for maximum impact, and to build a more resilient future for the communities affected by the effects of climate change.”

This is Save the Children’s fourth project with the Green Climate Fund and the first in sub-Saharan Africa, following the approval of major climate resilience and adaptation programmes in Lao PDR in November 2023,  Solomon Islands in July 2023 and Vanuatu in May 2022.

This important project will be implemented in partnership with the Environment Protection Agency Sierra Leone, communities and local NGOs, following extensive consultations with stakeholders.

The Board of the Green Climate Fund approved financing for the project at their Board meeting yesterday in Kigali, Rwanda with representatives from the Green Climate Fund and Save the Children signing the project agreement alongside the government representative from the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone.

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