“We, the Climate Change Campaign Group of Western Area (…) recognize the outcomes of COP27 and acknowledge the urgent need for Climate Change action globally knowing that the impact of Climate Change presents an existential challenge.” With this paragraph, the communique of newly formed Climate Change Campaign Group “Act on Climate Change Today (ACCT)” starts. The communique was launched together with a Climate Change Advocacy Strategy and Plan on October 10th at the Freetown City Council in the presence of group members, representatives from government and national and international organizations.
ACCT was formed through a participative and inclusive process which started in August 2023 and led by Green Scenery with support from Trocaire. Part of this process was the development of a four-year advocacy strategy as well as a six-month implementation plan for the first steps to be taken, focusing on the Western Area Peninsula Forest. “As part of its Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption Plan, the Campaign Group committed itself to working towards ensuring that by 2030, deforestation will be halted in the Protected Area, and forest cover increased by 50% from the current situation in 2023 within the Western Area Peninsular.” (Communique ACCT 2023)
The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) is part of the group and a signatory to the communique. Within attendance also, were representatives from PACJA, Youth Alliance Sierra Leone, CEFCON, YARDO SL, CAN SL, EBAFOSA SL, WoNES, ENFORAC, Reptiles and Amphibians Program, SLAFU, SLAAFU, VAFRICA, WoNARPI, INFORAC, TAKUGAMA, EFA and representatives from Mongegba, No 2 River, Grafton, John Obey, Tombo, Mambo and Big Water communities.
The transformation of the perception of communities and officials regarding the use of the Western Area Peninsula Forest forms a core element of reaching the overall goal of the communique until 2030. The group’s composition of members from national environmental NGOs and CSOs as well as representatives from communities speaks volumes about its participatory approach climate change mitigation interventions. The meetings were always open for government and international partners to participate to ensure that all are on the same page and work together towards the same goal: the protection of Western Area Peninsula Forest National Park.
Dr. Kande Kolleh Yumkella, Chairman of the Presidential Initiative on Climate Change, Renewable Energy and Food Security, delivered the keynote address at the conference, giving participants and the membership of the group the much-needed hope for a stronger collaboration and cooperation from all stakeholders involved in achieving its set goals. It is expected that, with the current momentum, the group will be able to look back after five years and catalogue its achievements with pride.
The communique ends with the expression, “As a campaign group, we call on Government, international community, members of the public to think Global and act Local in the fight against Climate Change and support initiatives that will win this fight.” There is nothing more to add. It is time to act now.