Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone has been elected as Vice Chair of the C40 Steering Committee, the governing body providing strategic direction for the global network of 97 cities committed to addressing the climate crisis.

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE was Mayor of Freetown from May 2018 to February 2023 and was recently re-elected to serve for a second term. A finance professional with over 25 years of private sector experience in strategic planning, risk management consulting and project management, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr adopted an inclusive, data-driven approach to addressing challenges in the city. She championed the four-year Transform Freetown plan, which detailed 19 concrete targets across 11 sectors and covered issues ranging from tackling environmental degradation to facilitating the creation of jobs for youth. Annual Transform Freetown reports, which document progress made against targets, can be viewed here.

Mayor Aki-Sawyerr’s notable achievements include: the construction and operation of Freetown’s first-ever wastewater treatment plant; the digitalisation and expansion of the city’s property rate system, the creation of over 3,500 jobs for youth and women; the planting and tracking of over 800,000 trees as part of the #FreetownTheTreeTown 1 million trees target; and securing the ongoing feasibility study for the introduction of a cable car system for the city. Mayor Aki-Sawyerr’s public sector engagement began with her work during the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic and her subsequent role as Delivery Team Lead for the second phase of a multi-stakeholder programme to drive socio-economic recovery in Sierra Leone post-Ebola. Mayor Aki-Sawyerr was featured by Time Magazine in the Time100 Next 2021 List and by the BBC in the BBC 100 Women 2020 List. She is a Chartered Accountant with an MSc in Politics of the World Economy from the London School of Economics and a BSc Hons in Economics from Fourah Bay College. She is married with two children.

As Vice Chair, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr will support the mayors of C40 Cities as they work together to deliver a green and just recovery from the COVID pandemic and address the climate crisis. Mayor Aki-Sawyerr was elected to represent Innovator Cities within C40’s membership – a total of 16 smaller cities from around the world that provide inspiration to others through their distinctive and pioneering climate leadership. 

C40’s member cities represent 700 million residents and one-quarter of the world’s economy. Through collaboration and innovation, the mayors of C40 Cities are determined to deliver on the Paris Agreement’s highest ambition and keep global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees, and to do so in an equitable way. 

Mayor Aki-Sawyerr said: “I am truly honoured to have been elected as Vice Chair of the C40 Steering Committee. As a female mayor from an innovator city in an emerging economy, I commit to not only represent the voices of C40 Innovator cities, but to highlight and promote the perspectives of women and smaller cities in emerging economies that are often overlooked in the fight against climate change. The world is running out of time in the fight against climate change – we need to act fast and we need to communicate to, and inspire all.”

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