World Resource Institute

Freetown, Sierra Leone

“As mayors, we are protecting the world’s forests by regreening our cities and protecting our vast natural lands. But we can’t do it alone. We call on national governments to step up their ambitions to conserve forests to fight climate change. And we ask the private sector to eliminate deforestation from supply chains and invest in nature. Now is the time for action.”

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, OBE, Mayor, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Success Story

After suffering a deadly landslide in 2017 that left more than 1000 people dead or missing, Freetown launched a comprehensive action plan called “Transform Freetown” in January 2019. A major pillar of the initiative is the “Freetown the TreeTown” campaign, which aims to plant and grow one million trees by the end of 2022. By restoring Freetown’s hillsides and increasing the amount of green space and vegetation cover in the city, the campaign hopes to reduce the likelihood and severity of future flood events and increase the ability of the city’s soils to absorb excess rainfall when it occurs. “Freetown The Treetown” encourages residents to take part in tree planting and maintenance efforts, and simultaneously aims to raise their awareness about the role of reforestation for disaster risk reduction and to mitigate future climate change. Freetown’s campaign should provide inspiration for other city decision makers that have yet to realize the full potential of trees and forests to mitigate risks posed by floods and landslides and support resilient development in the face of global climate change.

City photo by David Hond