At Citizens’ Climate International, we are deeply proud of the civic leadership of volunteers from our local chapters. Alhassan Sesay was a committed and persistent leader in our volunteer network, from Freetown, Sierra Leone. He led the Freetown chapter, and was a recognized leader and mentor to other volunteer climate advocates. We are very sad to deliver the news that on December 10, 2023, Alhassan passed away suddenly from heart failure.
We can say with confidence that Alhassan achieved something most people aspire to but never really reach—he made a substantive difference in the quality of political discourse and civic engagement in his country. Climate change is a challenging issue in the best of times—of supreme ethical importance, weighing on the wellbeing of billions of people across the world and far into the future, but relatively slow-moving from the day to day perspective of most people. And, reducing global heating emissions is all the more challenging because of the immense financial and political power held by major emitters in government and the private sector.
Alhassan was one of the principled, good-hearted, and committed spirits who understood that this difficulty is all the more reason to get involved and to work diligently to shift the boundaries of political discourse. We all need people like this, who voluntarily step into the civic arena, as advocates and educators, to give us all a better chance of designing and building a world that works for everyone.
He was trained by the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) in 2016, and became a Thought for Food Ambassador in 2019. He continued this work through the pandemic and to the present. In this work, he sought to inspire, discover, and develop new and innovative approaches to sustainable production and affordable distribution of food, for better outcomes for people and planet. On November 9, at the Sierra Leone Leadership Awards, he was recognized as one of 100 emerging leaders in his country.
We will miss Alhassan as a friend and partner in the hard work of first imagining and then bringing about through engaged civics a resilient climate future. We will miss his principled and professional approach, and his spirit of no-nonsense optimism, knowing that it only makes sense to pursue the best possible future, and to do so together, in collaboration with all who can support success.
As we move into a new phase in the evolution of Citizens’ Climate International, consciously supporting the upgrading of ambition in national climate crisis response and related areas of policy, we will remember Alhassan Sesay, and seek to center his example in the way we empower citizen volunteers to do this world-building work.