059: Alhassan Sesay, Sierra Leone School Green Club
Tune in to hear my interview with the founder of the Sierra Leone School Green Club. We talk about how and why he started the club, what they've been doing to make a difference and their plans for the upcoming September 20, 2019 School Strike for the Climate. Sign up to join the Sierra Leone event here.
Alhassan Sesay's personal motto is, "If not us, who? If not now, when?"
Listen here, on YouTube, or on the Green Team Academy Podcast wherever you get your podcasts!
Sierra Leone & Climate Change Background
Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world and is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. In 2013, the United Nations warned that the country was particularly vulnerable to increasing frequency and severity of droughts, floods and severe storms. These impact agriculture, fisheries, water resources, infrastructure and hydro-electric power. For example, shifting rainfall patterns have caused disruptions of planting seasons resulting in lower production and poverty amongst farmers.
In 2017, over 1,000 died in a massive mudslide of Sugarloaf Mountain in the seaside capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Many analysts point to unchecked construction, deforestation and shifting rainfall patterns as factors in the tragedy.
In 2018, the mayor of Freetown said, "Our city has no future if we don't save the environment. That's not me being a tree-hugger. That's being pragmatic." With a fifth of the population of this rapidly growing city living on $1.25 per day, people are driven to claim any trees or land they can find. The city grew from its original planned size of 400,000 in 1961 to now over 2 million.
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Sierra Leone School Green Club
In 2015, Alhassan Sesay decided to start the Sierra Leone School Green Club (SLSGC) as an indigenous community-based organization to focus on education, agriculture, protecting our environment and climate change. Alhassan's personal vision is to see a society that can provide for its own needs in a sustainable way thus mitigating poverty and deprivation for all people irrespective of gender, age, color, religion, tradition.
In 2016, Alhassan Sesay attended a civic engagement training in Ghana, through a fellowship in Civic Leadership with the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). YALI is an initiative started by U.S. President Obama to invest in the development of the next generation of African leaders.
SLSGC's mission is:
- Educate the public to create awareness on environmental issues;
- Lobby for more political will for a stable climate that will benefit all mankind;
- Engage in activities that are environmental friendly and sustainable in a bit to reverse climate change;
- Engage in civic education, behavioral change and attitudinal change amongst young people.
SLSGC hosts events in Western Rural District in Sierre Leone including, often partnering with other organizations:
- April 22, 2017: World Earth Day - Held workshop on climate literacy and environmental outreach
- July 18, 2017: Mandela's Day: Held workshop and tree planting at Huntingdon Secondary School, Freetown with more than 30 students and 10 teachers from different school
- June 5, 2018: World Environment Day Bid - Made 14 parachutes with support from Mother Earth Project. Displayed on the National Mall during the Zero Hour Youth March from July 19 - 21.
- September 8th 2018: With the support from 350 Africa, held Inclusive Political Will and Local Participation in Renewable Energy Source for Climate Change Mitigation Summit – Jui, Freetown. Brought together 10 schools, with youth, community, religious and political leaders.
- April 6, 2018: Good Deeds Day - hosted cleaning activity at Jui Junction
- May 24, 2019: Hosted the first #FridaysforFuture in Sierra Leone with artworks, march, and advocacy at the Western Rural District Council Headquarter, for Africa Day #AfricaVuka.
- September 20, 2019: Climate Strike
- Established 10 green clubs and supplied each with compost bins.
- Partnering with the Society for Climate Change Communication
Sierra Leone School Green Club held the first #FridaysforFuture in Sierra Leone for Africa Day on May 24, 2019
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September 20 & 27: Global Climate Strike
In May 2019, the School Strike for the Climate spurred action. Over one million students in 2,233 cities and towns in 128 countries walked out of school to demand that governments take climate action.
This September, millions of people will walk out of workplaces and homes to join young climate strikers on the streets to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels.
To find or organize a climate strike near you for September 20 to 27, 2019, visit GlobalClimateStrike.net.
The strike is being organized by 350.org, Amnesty International, Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future and other partners. Use hashtags #ClimateStrike and #FridaysforFuture
The global strike is an outgrowth in part to the School Strike for the Climate began in Sweden by youth climate activist, Greta Thunberg. She is now crossing the Atlantic Ocean and is hoping to arrive in time to appear at two crucial global gatherings: the Climate Action Summit in New York on 21-23 September and the UN climate conference in Santiago in early December.
Additional Information: Sierra Leone School Green Club
- Alhassan Sesay: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
- Sierra Leone School Green Club: Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube firstname.lastname@example.org Photo Album
- AfricaVuka: Platform to unite campaigns and movements working to end the age of fossil fuels in Africa and move to clean, renewable energy. Supported by 350Africa, part of the global organization 350.org.
- Mother Earth Project
- New partnership to help tackle climate change and deforestation in Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone Telegraph, January 6, 2019
- Beat Air Pollution on World Environment Day, Society 4 Climate Change Communication, June 5, 2019
- Life Doesn't Go On After the Mudslides in Sierra Leone, NPR, April 2018
- Our City Has No Future If We Don't Save the Environment - Freetown Mayor, Thomas Reuters Foundation, August 14, 2018
- UNDP, Climate Change Adaptation, Sierra Leone, Fact Sheet
- Global Climate Strike: Record number of students walk out, CNN, May 24, 2019
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