Amujae Leader and Mayor of Freetown Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE has urged world leaders and philanthropists to take action against the global biodiversity crisis, which sees one million plant and animal species facing extinction. Speaking at the Nature for Life High-Level Event at the UN General Assembly on 22 September, Ms. Aki-Saywerr joined several prominent Heads of State to raise awareness of the ongoing environmental crisis and encourage global collaboration.
During her address, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr outlined her plans for Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, to become a ‘tree-town’ by planting one million trees over the course of the next three rainy seasons. She emphasized the important role the community plays in this initiative, with fellow Sierra Leoneans stepping up to be tree stewards and growers. Demonstrating that protecting nature is good for prosperity, Ms. Aki-Sawyerr pointed out that the initiative is creating jobs and already feeding back into the local economy:
“We have tree stewards; we have tree growers. And we’re using a digitized tree checking app, which means the growth of the trees is monitored and it’s linked to payments, thereby also creating jobs… Freetown, the tree town, is making a significant difference to our little part of the globe, and it shows what can be done all over the world, as together we join hands as one community to address this crisis urgently.”
Ms. Aki-Saywerr was joined by prominent global leaders including heads of state from UK, EU, Bhutan, Nigeria, Gabon, Costa Rica, Chile, and Colombia who joined the event to outline their plans to increase funding and ambitions to urgently halt biodiversity loss.
Nine philanthropists, including the Bezos Earth Fund, the Rainforest Trust, and the Wyss Foundation, announced a commitment of US$5 billion to protect 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030 – making it the largest ever private funding commitment to environmental protection.