Uganda's Power to Act in the Fight Against Climate Change

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youthOn 17 June 2016, OXFAM and Climate Action Network – Uganda (CAN-U) hosted a Youth Climate Change and Gender Parity Workshop titled, “Accelerating Young People’s Leadership to Take Action on Climate Change.” The daylong convention took a particular focus on Uganda’s role in combatting climate change on a global scale, along with what implications climate change will have on the country.Climate Change Department Director Chebut Maikut spoke about Uganda’s contribution to climate change on a global scale along with monetary valuation of the impacts. Although some countries precipitate climate change more than others, the effects of global warming are something that we all experience, may have even witnessed in our lifetimes, and we should all be held accountable for the changes. Countries, particularly in the West, whom have relied on industrialisation, emission of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and pollution for their development act as the largest contributors with generally resilient economies in comparison to those of the developing world.

On a global scale, Uganda as a country is one of the lowest contributors of GHGs, being responsible for an approximate 0.01% figure of total global GHG contributions. Yet, the country is one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It is predicted that the incoming effects of climate change will impact four main sectors, which act as key contributors to Uganda’s development: water, energy, infrastructure, and agriculture. Commissioning the costs of climate change has started: adapting these four sectors within the next four years will cost $406 million US dollars. Remaining docile to the impacts of climate change can lead up to losses of $5.9 billion US dollars per year up until 2025.

youth5With agriculture as the backbone to Uganda’s economy, is it crucial that Uganda, along with large global emitters of GHGs, provide mitigating solutions which allow Uganda to overcome obstacles in agricultural sector development, the earning of modest livelihoods for all, and national achievement of Vision 2040. As other countries have done for their growth, Uganda should not be pressured to stop the similar fashion. This industrialisation, however, should prioritize sustainable development in order to effectively sustain a progressive future. The question of reducing climate change impacts while contributing to the overall socioeconomic wellbeing of Ugandans came about through the concern of accomplishing Vision 2040.

Solutions mitigating global warming while contributing to socioeconomic success were discussed from a number of representatives. Creation Energy Representative James Kakeeto spoke about using waste business to benefit the country financially, especially through the reduction of pollution, creation of jobs and wealth, and sustaining of resources through briquette businesses. Skilling youth in “green jobs” (jobs in which contribute to assisting the environment) to provide mitigation-based and adaptation-based solutions was granted by Dr. Dick M. Kamugasha of Uganda Industrial Research Institute.

Turning challenges into opportunities for Uganda’s development includes developing energy efficient technologies, renewable energy solutions, environmentally sustainable products, conversion of waste-to-energy, recycling of waste into products, and new-age agricultural technologies. youth3All of these solutions would be conducive to Uganda’s “green revolution” which requires specialized skills training to support related enterprise development, particularly for youth and women, who are amongst the most affected of the demographics to climate change.

Innovation and skills development are answers to providing market opportunities, job and wealth creation, and enterprises for youth through the challenges of climate change. A plenary discussion in the end concluded with numerous audience members emphasizing that unless the causes and consequences of climate change are addressed immediately, the youth of today and tomorrow might be effectively absent from participating productively in society. This, in turn, could have a serious implication on the country’s development in the long term.

By Emily Sousa
FRA Intern