Women represent one of the most vulnerable population groups when it comes to the threat of climate change and must be given priority in local climate action plans.
Advocating for more local measures to protect women from the repercussions of the climate crisis, Amujae Leader and Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr highlighted the steps taken under her leadership to offer relief to women in her city.
The measures include the construction of heat-repellent shades in three open-air street markets, with plans to expand to more locations in the city “as quickly as possible.”
Speaking at the recent inaugural Forum on Global Resilience organized by the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center in Miami, Florida, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr addressed the repercussions of extreme weather events that are caused by climate change.
Extreme urban heat is a challenge that the Freetown City Council (FCC) is working on addressing with the support of community stakeholders, government agencies, and local and international development partners, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr said:
“Heat mapping and air quality measurements will start in Freetown within the next two months to identify the urban heat islands and hot spot areas.”
She also stressed the importance of keeping the interests of city residents in sight despite the scale of the climate challenge:
“It is important for us to keep making tangible improvements in the lives of our residents, one step at a time.”
The inaugural Forum was opened by Ms. Adrienne Arsht, Founder of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, and directed by the Center’s Senior Vice President and Director Kathy Baughman McLeod.
Delegating more power to local authorities to enable them to contribute to development efforts and climate action was also the subject of Mayor Aki-Sawyerr’s recent intervention at the Dialogue 2030 Conference in Bonn, Germany.
In her keynote address, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr explained how, through decentralization, local authorities can drive effective urban management plans and targeted climate action. She added that FCC is collaborating with German partners—including the Mannheim city authorities—on “strengthening urban planning capacity through the recruitment of international and local expert urban planners in anticipation of eventual decentralization.”
The Conference—organized by Engagement Global and hosted by the Mayor of Bonn, Katja Dörner—also featured a discussion panel that included Mayor Aki-Sawyerr alongside Dr Bärbel Kofler, German Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.