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.
From deadly heatwaves and devastating droughts, to decimated forests and coastlines eroded by rising sea levels, climate change is already taking its toll in Europe and worldwide. While the EU does everything within its power to mitigate climate change, domestically and internationally, we must also get ready to face its unavoidable consequences. A new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, sets out the pathway to prepare for the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
The situation in the Arctic has changed dramatically in recent years, so much so that last year saw temperatures of up to 38 degrees in some Arctic regions. The ice is melting and permafrost is thawing at extraordinary speed. High temperatures have also brought wild fires, and thawing permafrost is causing infrastructure to crumble, most likely causing the diesel spill in Siberia last Summer. Melting sea ice has also opened up potential new sea routes however, and eased potential access to oil and gas reserves. This in turn has increased geopolitical interest in the Arctic.
Team Europe is working with the Timorese authorities to help preserve forests and to improve livelihoods of the rural communities in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Timor-Leste’s National Day of Sandalwood and Forests the European Union, together with Germany and Portugal, launched the distribution of 70,000 seedlings that will improve lives, bolster biodiversity, and help to preserve the environment.