“There can be no global impact without local community input, buy-in, and implementation,” stated Amujae Leader and Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr during her intervention at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeepers 2022 event in New York.
During the event focused on solving global development issues, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr stressed the importance of engaging local communities in the quest for sustainable and effective solutions.
“Gender inequality, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, devastating climate change impacts… and lack of access to justice, they all affect real people in the communities where they live. Thus, that is precisely where the solutions need to be.”
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr pointed to Transform Freetown—the ambitious development plan she led as the head of the Freetown City Council to drive socio-economic development in the city—saying that community ownership was key to the initiative’s achievements.
However, she also noted that to come to fruition, locally-driven solutions need national and international support:
“We need to work as one team, national and local, international and local, in achieving the 17 Global Goals. Freetown is just one city at the vanguard, perhaps, and it can be a model that can be replicated across other cities.”
The two-day event also featured interventions from Bill and Melinda Gates, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Honourable Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, and Malala Yousafzai, Co-Founder of the Malala Fund.
Goalkeepers is a campaign dedicated to accelerating progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. It brings together a diverse range of leaders to address the world’s major challenges and bring about positive change.
Watch Mayor Aki-Sawyerr’s full intervention here.