EU Climate Diplomacy Week Lecture calls For Burden Sharing

EU Climate Diplomacy Week Lecture calls For Burden Sharing

By 11:00am on 16th September 2016, the usually silent Senior Common Room in the Main Administration Building was abuzz with activity as Staff and Students of Makerere took up every available seat, expectantly awaiting the start of the Public Lecture. As part of activities to mark the Climate Diplomacy Week, the EU Delegation in Uganda in partnership with the Makerere University Centre for Climate Change Research and Innovation (MUCCRI) organized a Public Lecture aimed at raising climate change awareness among University students.

The Moderator of the event and Acting Director MUCCRI, Dr. Revocatus Twinomuhangi thanked his audience for keeping time and introduced the day’s theme “Innovative and effective approaches to climate change adaptation in Uganda”.  He noted that Makerere University is engaged in a number of activities such as teaching, curriculum review and outreaches, all aimed at highlighting the impact of climate change and the appropriate adaptation strategies that can be adopted.

The Public Lecture was jointly presided over by the H.E. Ambassador Kristian Schmidt, Head of the EU Delegation in Uganda and Alhaji Momodou Jallow, FAO Country Representative. In his opening remarks, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, Principal, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) thanked the EU Delegation in Uganda for choosing Makerere to host the all important Public Lecture. He noted that bringing students on board is the right thing to do and urged the students present to work together with today’s researchers to build rather than destroy their future.

Prof. Edward Kirumira is no stranger to the Climate Change Adaptation debate. The Principal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) is also the Academic Coordinator for the Makerere-University of Bergen collaboration and as such, played a key role in organizing the first EA Norway Climate and Business Conference. The outcome of this conference was a Communique to COP21 on Climate Change and Opportunities for Sustainable Business. Representing the Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu, Prof. Kirumira noted that climate adaptation is a multidisciplinary, multifaceted, multi sector undertaking that calls for concerted effort to accomplish.

“Issues of climate change and climate adaptation are part and parcel of the curriculum review process that the University is undertaking now. This Public Dialogue comes at a very opportune time to make sure that climate change issues are on the agenda of curriculum review” said Prof. Kirumira

He urged the students to listen attentively and thereafter, actively participate in the discussions so as to guarantee themselves internship and possibly employment positions. He observed that the public lecture had in addition to the EU Head of Delegation and FAO Country representative attracted some of the most important parties in the climate change circles, all of whom presented very good future prospects for students.

“It is indeed important to have the academia, training and research institutions on board to contribute knowledge and information in addressing the climate change challenge. This forum is therefore timely and significant, and similar forums should be organised” remarked Alhaji Jallow, the FAO Country Representative in his keynote address. He noted that FAO is already working with MUCCRI on a project aimed at enhancing Knowledge Management and Communication Systems for climate change adaptation. The project is being carried out in six out of twenty nine Districts of Uganda’s cattle corridor. These six Districts are Sembabule, Luweero, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Mubende and Kiboga.

Alhaji Jallow hoped that the Public Lecture would identify priority areas that need concerted effort in contributing knowledge, information and technologies for building resilience to climate change challenges. “Resilience to climate change will surely maintain food and nutrition security for all and sustain development themes” he said.

H.E. Ambassador Kristian Schmidt is a lively speaker who likes to engage his audience. Noting that his speech had a number of acronyms, the Ambassador occasionally paused whenever he met one and asked the students to give him the full version, and none disappointed. He noted that Uganda had the best climate in the world and it would be a pity if this enviable fact were to change.

“You the youth are well-placed and crucial in society in addressing and also living with the consequences of climate change” said Ambassador Schmidt. He commended the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) for spearheading efforts that led to Uganda playing a very constructive role at COP21 (Congress of Parties 21). COP21 was the 2015 Paris Climate Conference aimed at achieving a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

“Climate Diplomacy is about countries working together to agree on burden sharing and collective action, when acting alone will not solve the problems that we face… It is about countries saying ‘we all have to do our share’ and then committing to doing it together” Ambassador Schmidt explained. He therefore urged Uganda to press on and ratify the COP21 Agreement as this will pile pressure on emitting countries to do the same.

Ambassador Schmidt then shared four examples of the EU Delegation in Uganda’s Green Projects that other parties could borrow a leaf from. These include: the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme III (SPGS III) for Commercial Agroforestry; Green Transport to support multimodal transportation; the Largest On-grid Solar Energy Plant in East Africa currently under construction in Soroti and working with KCCA (Kampala Capital City Authority) on its Climate Change Action Strategy to address congestion.

Following the Ambassador’s presentation, the day’s discussion would have been incomplete without expert opinions on the four themes of: climate change policy and practice in Uganda; the role of education in addressing climate change; climate change and the youth; and climate change and gender. The Moderator, Dr. Revocatus Twinomuhangi then invited the day’s panelists who included Mr. Bob Natifu-Climate Change Department (CCD)-MWE and Prof. John Baptist Kaddu-Lead Government of Uganda Negotiator for COP to share their views. Others included Mr. Sadam Kiwanuka-President Makerere University Climate Change Association, Ms. Catherine Mulinde-PhD Candidate on Climate Change Adaptation and Dr. May Sengendo-School of Women and Gender Studies, CHUSS

At the conclusion of the open discussion, Hon. Chebet Maikut, the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) National Focal Point and Coordinator, CCD-MWE commended the audience for being keen listeners and active discussants.

“The Youth have a daunting responsibility, more so in our National circumstances where Uganda’s economy is predominantly based on our natural resources… Our natural resources are under the biggest threat; they are bleeding! If we don’t do anything now, the future is very bleak” he warned.

Hon. Chebet Maikut nevertheless reiterated Government’s total commitment to addressing climate change as demonstrated by the various national policies and strategies in place. He then thanked the EU for their generous support to the Government’s Development programmes and negotiations at COP.

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