The Sustainable Development Goals in Sierra Leone
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Sierra Leone:
12 April 2023
“Youth in politics & peacebuilding” project launched by UN Resident Coordinator.
With funding from the UN Peacebuilding Fund, United Nations Resident Coordinator (RC) Mr Babatunde Ahonsi today launched a close to 2 million US Dollar "Youth in politics and peacebuilding" project aiming to reach 11,604 young persons aged 18-25 in Bo, Port Loko, Western Urban and Rural areas. Mr Ahonsi, who gave the keynote address at the ceremony held at the former premises of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, now the National Peace Museum, said CARITAS and CRS would implement the project and that it is particularly relevant to the context of Sierra Leone, as it addresses young people, female and male, politics, and peacebuilding. He commended the CRS, CARITAS and the National Youth Commission for their partnership in the endeavour. The RC emphasized that young people have a crucial role in the present and future of democracy in the country and that "engaging young people in democratic processes and allowing them to participate, safely and constructively, in politics are core aspects of any effort to sustain democracy”. He also reiterated that investing in young political leaders' capacity, agency, and leadership will strengthen their ability to collaboratively lead peace efforts and use their skills to tackle other concerns that affect their lives, particularly in these challenging national and international times. In his remarks, Mr Ahonsi also quoted the UN Security Council resolution 2250 on youth, peace, and security (YPS), which acknowledged young women and men's positive role in society and in sustaining peace and security. He, therefore, welcomed the support that the project offers to develop the skills of young women and men in civic education and leadership to empower them as leaders in their communities and country. Additionally, he referenced the 2022 Global Gender Gap Report, which revealed that persistent gender gaps exist in political participation, especially as women are significantly under-represented as voters, candidates, and electoral representatives worldwide, including in Sierra Leone. According to Mr Ahonsi, "It is certainly, good news that the project has included the increase of young women's participation in governance and decision-making processes among its main goals." It will invest in advocacy activities against Gender-Based Violence and harmful customary practices that put young women at risk and undermine their socioeconomic development. Mr Ahonsi disclosed that the UN subscribes to any effort to reduce violence and resolve disputes peacefully while promoting social inclusion, addressing the justice needs of people and reducing polarization and distrust. He said the UN would continue to count on all Sierra Leoneans to work together in this crucial period for the country's democracy to prevent the recurrence of the unprecedented level of violence experienced on 10th August last year. He reiterated the UN's commitment to supporting national institutions and the people of Sierra Leone in preventing violent conflicts, particularly ahead of the June elections, that could reverse the important gains of peace and democracy, which this country has made commendably over the past years.
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05 April 2023
At iVerfiy launch: UN calls for the promotion of political tolerance & peaceful communication.
The UN system in Sierra Leone today joined calls for citizens and non-citizens, state and non-state actors, representatives of government institutions, religious leaders, and political leaders to take responsibility to combat disinformation, misinformation and hate speech through the promotion of political tolerance and peaceful communication. This call was made by UN Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi when he joined members of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), the Independent Radio Network (IRN), BBC Media Action, UNDP, government, and other state institutions to launch the iVerify platform. The platform, made possible by donors including the UN Peacebuilding Fund, UNDP, Ireland, European Union, Canada, and Iceland, aims at identifying and mitigating disinformation, misinformation and hate speech. In his keynote address at the Swiss Hotel in Freetown, Mr Ahonsi said that the advance of the Internet, social media and Artificial Intelligence has contributed to inclusion, transparency, and participation of citizens in governance. However, he emphasised this “also carries risks and challenges to the integrity of the information landscape with ramifications on democratic processes”. According to him, misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech remain a major challenge as the country moves towards general elections in June this year. “Over the past two years, the country has seen a flood of hateful statements on social media perpetrated, mainly, by political rivals in the country and abroad,” he cited. For the RC, the fight against disinformation, misinformation and hate speech remains a shared responsibility of all, especially as the UN has developed the iVerify tool to facilitate identification and fact-checking of potential misrepresented contents, particularly in election times as information travels from social media to radio channels and the public. He maintained that tolerance is a key ingredient of democracy, implying acceptance and respect for diversity and political pluralism. Therefore, he commended the Political Party Regulation Commission for its efforts to maintain a space for dialogue among political parties. He also encouraged them, together with the government, the Electoral Commission, the Police, and the security sector, to ensure a level-playing field for all political parties and actors and increase efforts to foster political tolerance. “We also call on opposition parties to join hands with state institutions and act responsibly, equally promoting tolerance and peace,” stated Mr Ahonsi. The RC used his remarks to emphasize that women and young people have a key role to play in the present and future of democracy and that engaging them to participate safely and constructively in politics, either as voters, activists, or candidates, are core aspects of any effort to sustain democracy. He concluded that launching the iVerify platform was an important milestone in underlining and re-emphasizing “our joint commitment and collective responsibility to strengthen information integrity.” Highlights of the event included a demonstration of the use of the platform and statements made by SLAJ and the Inter-religious Council. Also in attendance was the UNDP Resident Representative Pa Lamin Beyai.
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22 March 2023
UN in Sierra Leone plans joint engagement with the Government on AfCTA.
The Government of Sierra Leone, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, was today briefed on plans by the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) to facilitate a joint UN engagement and informed advocacy to support the country to leverage better the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as part of the country's drive for economic recovery and sustainable development. United Nations Resident Coordinator (RC) Babatunde Ahonsi disclosed this to the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Edward Hinga Sandy, whom he met this morning at his Youyi Building office in Freetown, accompanied by UN Women's Head of Office, Ms. Setcheme Mongbo and UNCDF's Country Manager, Mr. Wycliffe Ngwabe. Mr Ahonsi said the UNCT is aware of the economic challenges developing countries, including Sierra Leone, are facing because of global shocks' impacts, "including the prolonged effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and most recently the war in Ukraine." He further said that despite these economic challenges, the UN believes that the country can benefit from several opportunities presented by the AfCFTA agreement. "As the implementation of AfCFTA started on 1st January 2021, it is important that Sierra Leone seriously and speedily seeks to explore intra-regional trade opportunities and maximise economic growth advantages offered by AfCFTA, the world's largest free trade agreement by the number of participating countries," he emphasised. He stressed that a collective and more systematic engagement by the UN system in Sierra Leone would better enable the country to significantly and beneficially grow its exports and imports from other African countries through the enhanced opportunities and arrangements offered by AfCFTA. The UNCT, Mr Ahonsi disclosed, has already identified a number of critical steps that will push forward this initiative based on the leadership of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. In his response, Minister Sandy thanked the RC and the UNCT for opting to support the Ministry in its efforts to operationalise AfCFTA in Sierra Leone and noted that they are ready to work with the UN to strengthen the institutional framework and strategy for fully implementing the AfCFTA agreement. He also informed the RC that the structures are already in place in his Ministry but would need to be strengthened through technical collaboration with the UN. Dr Sandy called for the involvement of other players, including the private sector and the media, to intensify public dialogue on the national AfCFTA Strategy and acknowledged the need to prepare the private sector to produce and ensure they have access to raw materials and to be able to compete internationally. The Minister agreed with the UN RC on the need for enhanced intra-African trade and support to strengthen local businesses. He believes this will trigger job creation for Sierra Leone's youthful population. He noted that for every revenue Government loses in the form of concession to the private sector, there should be a corresponding benefit of job creation in the country. Dr Sandy ended by acknowledging that all the issues Mr Ahonsi raised are very important and that his Ministry is ready to work with the UN to ensure Sierra Leone benefits from the AfCFTA agreement. Today's meeting with the Minister was informed by prior consultations among several UN agencies on how best to support the country to operationalise AfCFTA. Recently, the RC had a virtual meeting with the Chief of Staff of the Accra-based AfCFTA Secretariat. At that meeting, Mr Ahonsi obtained clarity on what the UN could do to best support Sierra Leone to intensify its operationalisation of AfCFTA at the country level. It also brought to the fore the sort of support that is available at the Secretariat for member states to fully implement AfCFTA and the steps being taken to ensure that informal sector, women, and youth issues are adequately factored into AfCFTA processes. Key takeaways from that meeting which would require collaboration between the UN and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, include broad-based validation and popularisation of the national AfCFTA Implementation Strategy to secure the buy-in and engagement of all relevant MDAs, private sector, development partners, and other relevant stakeholders. Also, the need for a National AfCFTA Coordination Office as a high-level inter-ministerial and multi-stakeholder oversight and management mechanism for AfCFTA implementation and the urgent need for the country to participate in the upcoming Intra-African Trade Fair in Abidjan in November with the strong involvement of the private sector. Additionally, there is a need for official outreach to the Secretariat to identify the products that businesses in Sierra Leone may wish to export and import as part of intra-Africa trade with preferential tariff arrangements with other countries under the Guided Trade Initiative of AfCFTA.
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27 February 2023
UN Migration Network holds annual retreat, discusses 2023 Work Plan & Global Compact for Migration
On 15th February, the United Nations Network on Migration (UNNM) in Sierra Leone held its Annual Retreat at the Place Resort, Tokeh in the Western Area Rural District. The event which brought together officials from various UN Agencies allowed interesting conversations on the 2023 UNNM Work Plan and key achievements of the Network in supporting the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) in the country. Emphasizing the importance of the GCM, the Head of IOM Sierra Leone a.i, Christos Christodoulides noted that the GCM is a non-binding document that respects states’ sovereign right to determine who enters and stays in their territories and demonstrates a commitment to international cooperation on migration. Mr. Christodoulides added that it presents an opportunity to improve the governance of migration, address the challenges associated with today’s migration, and strengthen the contribution of migrants and migration to sustainable development. He further stated that Sierra Leone did not only participate in the process and adoption of the GCM, but also has demonstrated its commitment to the implementation by pledging to strengthen her partnerships to address issues that are related to Environmental Migration, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Reduction. “This retreat event is intended to update Network members on the progress made, as well as where improvements are needed towards the GCM implementation while building momentum towards a much more engaging Network in support of the government’s GCM implementation’’ Mr. Christodoulides said. In her statement, Ms. Nadia Rasheed, the United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i, and UNFPA Sierra Leone Country Representative said the Retreat is important and timely for UN Agencies to join forces, deliberating and discussing how best they can work together to support migration management and to help the Government achieve the vision of the GCM. “In resolution 73/195 adopted on 19 July 2019, the General Assembly committed to implementing the Global Compact at the national, regional, and global levels in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders. Furthermore, the General Assembly welcomed the establishment of the UN Network on Migration to ensure system-wide support for the implementation, follow-up, and review of the Global Compact” she stated. The event featured Special sessions on the UN Migration Network regional priorities facilitated by Sarah Carl, IOM Regional Advisor, Policy and Liaison, from the IOM Regional Office in Dakar. Also, network members discussed key areas of the work plan and identified emerging recommendations, and priorities for the network.
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13 February 2023
SDGs & Joint UN project work displayed during Resident Coordinator’s field visit to 4 Districts.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator (RC) in Sierra Leone, Mr. Babatunde Ahonsi, has over two days held town hall engagements with students and bike riders on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and visited UN-supported project sites in Tonkolili, Bombali, Port Loko and Kambia Districts, northern Sierra Leone. At the Teko Central Veterinary Laboratory, Makeni, where he toured the FAO & USAID supported- facility last Tuesday, Mr Ahonsi, FAO, and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry officials discussed handing over plans of the lab to the Ministry and ensuring that it has a strategic plan for the next five years. They also spoke about the retention of the current staff who have benefited from training and other institutional memory and the challenges faced with sample referrals. The RC said it was a pleasure to travel to the field and see what "we are able to achieve collectively in the pursuit of the national priorities." He emphasised the need to strengthen these efforts to do development in a way that benefited the most vulnerable in society and called for addressing global health issues through an integrated health approach. Mr Ahonsi said that the Teko Lab is an important contribution to the overall development of the country's infrastructure and commended everyone involved with the programme despite the challenges. The RC also visited a gari-processing factory in Teko where Adamaris Industries Sierra Leone Ltd is working with 120 outgrowers producing high-value flour cassava to reduce dependency on wheat flour for bread production. ILO is working with the factory as a pilot to improve the production method and ensure that people get decent work. At the public education forum on the SDGs with students of the Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology (EBK), Mr Ahonsi urged them to insist that their leaders at all levels of society work toward achieving the Goals by 2030. "Track what is happening around you, using a sustainable development lens of leaving no one behind," he emphasised. Day one ended with a visit to the Mafanta Correctional Centre in Magburaka, where UNDP supported the construction of a block for tailoring and carpentry for the inmates. UNDP also equipped the tailoring component with various equipment and other materials to facilitate effective vocational learning. The income-earning scheme programme is expected to facilitate the successful reintegration of inmates upon the expiration of their prison term and release. Issues discussed with the Correctional officials also included challenges faced by the inmates to register and open bank accounts, solar power, equipment for the carpentry block, and linkages with the private sector. On Wednesday, the RC, accompanied by ILO Chief Technical Advisor Manoto Tonderai and UNDP Resident Representative (RR) Pa Lamin Beyai, visited the 5.7 Km long Romarco-Malekuray feeder road in Port Loko. The Opportunity Salone Programme implemented by ILO with funds from the EU aims to contribute to more decent job creation for young women and persons with disabilities, mainly in rural areas, through inclusive value chain development focused on SMEs and Cooperatives and feeder road maintenance to improve access to urban markets. At Bamoi Luma in Kambia, the RC and the RR met with borderland community women beneficiaries of a Quick Impact Project to address the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic on their communities supported by UNDP. The women said UNDP supported them with money to do their business during the height of the pandemic, and now, they can pay school fees for their children and take care of the home and are no longer sexually violated. At Rokupr, he visited a WFP-supported Homegrown School Feeding Programme at the Holy Cross Primary School and an inland valley farm. WFP is supporting 412 pupils and working with the Munafa- Munafa Farmers group comprising 41 farmers in this pilot. The 2 -day field trip ended with the RC SDGs’ public awareness with Bike Riders at the Red Cross Hall in Kambia Town. He called on them to be agents of peace and conflict prevention and avoid violence during the elections in June. Furthermore, he cautioned them to stay off Kush and marijuana and to ride their bikes cautiously to reduce the rate of accidents on the road. He added that they should always assist persons with disabilities, not be involved in sexual violence, and protect the environment.
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12 September 2022
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