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The road to Lima, Peru for the 20th Conference of Parties on Climate Change

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya in Lima, Peru

A governmental delegation of more than twelve members has left Sierra Leone to attend the United Nations Conference on Climate Change also known as COP20 which is taking place in Lima, Peru and has since started from the 1st and will end on the 12th of December 2014. This is the 20th Conference of Parties (COP20) and the 10th Meeting of the Parties (CMP10).

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Mr. Momodu Bah introducing part of the Sierra Leone delegation to the various CCTV screens in the conference

Mr. Momodu Bah introducing part of the Sierra Leone delegation to the various CCTV screens in the conference

The Sierra Leone delegation includes members of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation serving as the National Focal points to the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, staff of the Environment Protection agency of Sierra Leone serving as the lead towards environmental protection in Sierra Leone, representatives from the media, the SLPA, Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, Parliamentary Committee Chairman on Lands and the Environment and host of other representatives.

Sierra Leone is presently facing Ebola crisis but despite that the attendance of the country’s delegation has been welcomed and key towards its commitment as a Party to the Kyoto Protocol. Many people were expecting stigma and discrimination during the travel to Lima because of the present deadly disease in our country but from Freetown right to Casablanca, Morocco where the second batch of delegation passed through and first transited; and to Sao Paulo, Brazil right inside to Lima; there has been no such occurrence of stigmatization because of the Ebola in our country. The interesting thing is that there is only protocol set up by the UNFCCC secretariat after directives from the WHO for any of the three member states greatly affected by the Ebola disease to be checked in by health officials in Lima when they arrived at the airport. This was done with respect and in the best manner by the Port Health Officials who issued us with health certificates and electronic thermometers which we are presently using at our hotels for daily check in of temperatures. We are using the thermometers to check our temperatures in the evening after the conference while they will come in the morning and collect the result of the past day and take a new result in the morning.

Mr. Alpha Bockarie of the Metrological department of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation is the designated focal point for Climate Change in Sierra Leone while his Minister is the leader of delegation as authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As we arrived, during the past weekend, the head of the Climate Change Secretariat at the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone, Mr. Momodu A Bah played a great role towards admonishing us on the past events and preparation for the final week which will be a major events towards the climate change conference negotiations and political commitment towards climate change. Together with Mr. Bockarie, Mr. Bah took his time to furnish us on the events and which meetings of the conference each and every member of the delegation must attend in other to ensure Sierra Leone is fully represented in each of the meetings and proceedings here in Lima.

In one of the sessions, there was vital celebration and showcasing of the REDD-plus implementation in developing countries by the government of Peru and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Even though the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food security is presently implementing a REDD+ project in Sierra Leone, they were not present for the conference for probably unconfirmed reasons. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation to foster conservation and sustainable management of forests is the main reason why the European Union had supported the REDD+ project at the Ministry of Agriculture and the setting up of the National Protected Area Authority.

Climate Change is one of the greatest challenges of the present time and it represents an urgent and irreversible threat to human societies and the planet. The report of the intergovernmental panel on Climate Change has underscored their general consensus backed system evidence from the observations made since 1950 that the climate system including the atmosphere and oceans have warmed and sea level has risen with negative implications and projections for the African continent.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol constitute the fundamental global instruments on climate change and that all actions or measures related to climate change must be in full conformity with the principles and provisions of the convention in particular those of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities for Africa. At present, Africa faces numerous severe and growing negative impacts arising from the adverse effects of Climate Change and such impacts are undermining Africa’s efforts to attain its development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals and the proposed Sustainable Development Goals. There is an urgent and immediate need to avoid further loss and damage to Africa and call for immediate action in particular to reduce their emissions in line with the information set out in the latest reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change and more recent scientific studies in a way that will limit th global average increase to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Mr. Momodu A Bah in one of the plenary sessions on behalf of his Executive Chairperson and the Board as well as the government of Sierra Leone informed the group that even if developed countries give billions of dollars to Africa to mitigate towards climate change, if they do not change their actions towards the environment, it will be an effortless activity.

The Sierra Leone delegation has yesterday Monday participated to the sessions on consultations by the Chair of the SBSTA on work programme on the revision of the guidelines for the review of biennial reports and national communications, including national inventory reviews, for developed country Parties and a host of other sessions.

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