United Nations, New York, Monday 20 September 2021 – His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has submitted to this year’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Moment, convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, his country’s inspiring SDG actions despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

He said although the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 had further exposed nations to heightened vulnerabilities they also pushed them to rethink delivery on the SDGs, reiterating the call for partnerships and cooperation to deliver on the targets in order to achieve a secure where no one was left behind.

Sierra Leone’s Medium-Term National Development Plan is our nationally owned roadmap for building a society that is cohesive, secure, and just. It is aligned with the African Union Agenda 2063 and the global SDGs.

It prioritises Human Capital Development, and we have identified SDG4 (quality education) and SDG16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions) as our Accelerator Goals. Those Goals remain pivotal to the transformation of our country and my government remains fully committed to their implementation,” he said.

President Bio also registered Sierra Leone’s commitment to delivering on SDG 4, citing his government’s increased budgetary allocation.

In spite of COVID-19, school enrolments have increased; there are higher student success and comprehensive safety indicators; families are saving in excess of $500 a year per student; and completion and retention rates are also up.

On SDG 16, my government is operationalizing the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion.

There is expanded nationwide access to justice and the Legal Aid Board continues to provide free legal representation to under-served Sierra Leoneans with a 93% increase in service rates from 2018, he said.

He also disclosed that the government was working with civil society actors, noting his government’s repeal of the seditious libel laws, that criminalized free speech and abolished the death penalty.

In spite of COVID-19 challenges, my government will continue its work on strengthening governance, deepening decentralisation, and streamlining domestic resource mobilisation through our Integrated National Financing Framework.

We are using science, technology, and innovation to simplify governance, financial management, and procurement systems, he concluded.