Delegation of the European Union to Venezuela

EU Sierra Leone trains journalists on climate change and environmental reporting

02/03/2021 - 19:11
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In 2020, Sierra Leone ranked below the regional average on the Environmental Performance Index. The country remains particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, severe floods, erratic and torrential rainfall, biodiversity loss and associated environmental risks. The impact on sectors such as agriculture and fisheries threatens the basis of 60% of the economy and the livelihood of 70% of people, thereby increasing conflict risks. Furthermore, research indicates that habitat destruction correlates with zoonotic diseases such as the Ebola Virus disease, which renders the fragmentation of Sierra Leone’s forests a global public health issue.

 

Freetown: The EU Delegation from 22 to 26 February organized a workshop for journalists from 15 different media outlets. The purpose was to allow media practitioners to learn more about climate change, biodiversity loss and environmentally harmful practices in Sierra Leone, to be better informed about national policies in these areas but also to receive more information about the EU’s green initiatives and the future COP-26 Summit.

The training was facilitated by The Economic Forum Sierra Leone.

The ultimate goal of the initiative was to encourage and empower journalists to help fast-track environment and climate action through regular reporting, advocacy, education and awareness raising of the general public.

 “The media need to be forward-looking and play a proactive role in informing the public about Sierra Leone’s preparedness as well as during and after disasters”, EU Ambassador Tom Vens said.

The participants took part in several field trips to assess the realities of environmental degradation in Sierra Leone and the challenges of biodiversity conservation, particularly in the Western Area Peninsular National Park – which serves as the main water catchment source for Freetown.

Journalists also witnessed first-hand how the vast coastline along the peninsular – famous for its pristine beaches and wetlands - is under severe threat due to sand mining, deforestation and other unregulated social activities.

A visit was also organised to Motormeh - a mountainous community of Regent, Freetown - where over 1000 people tragically lost their lives during the 14th August 2017 landslide.

In closing, the trainees visited a project site of the EU-funded “FreetownTheTreeTown” project, an action that seeks to reforest Freetown, halt and reverse the damage caused by deforestation and protect water catchments.

The various topics covered were largely captured in the media articles and stories prepared by the participants on the last day of the training.

EU Ambassador Tom Vens during the closing ceremony stated: “The EU is proud to have helped the media in Sierra Leone to play a greater role in creating awareness, transparency and accountability around climate change and environmental issues and will continue to look for opportunities to support the media in performing its critical function to society”.

In Sierra Leone, the EU is also actively involved in the conservation of forest ecosystems and the enhancement of climate resilience. Under the regional PAPFor programme, the EU seeks to protect the Outamba-Kilimi National Park and the Kuru Hills Forest Reserve. The site is of particularly high conservation significance as it is an important refuge for 13 species of primates – including significant populations of the critically endangered Western Chimpanzee - and several large mammals, such as the leopard, pygmy hippopotamus and forest elephant. For this programme, 2.9 million € have been earmarked.