Enact a Fair and Equitable Climate Change Law for Uganda
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As you are aware, Uganda has already witnessed some of the negative effects of climate change, and many more are expected to impact the country. The major manifestations of climate change in Uganda include: severe water shortages; increased incidents of drought; reduced crop production especially the value of the Arabica and Robusta coffee crop which could fall by half by 2050 due to the contraction of the area that can support its production – with the cost of the associated losses from the fall in production estimated at US$ 1, 235 million; reduced potential for hydropower development due to a reduction in rainfall and water availability – with the decline estimated at 26% by 2050; and damage to the country’s physical infrastructure due to extreme weather events, with losses estimated at 0.1–0.4% of Uganda’s GDP in 2050 (Ministry of Water and Environment, 2017).
The impact of climate change on Uganda is also manifested by the declining surface area of the Rwenzori ice caps which has reduced by 49 percent between 1987 and 2003, and is projected to disappear within the next two decades.
Thus, adaptation and mitigation action is required in all major sectors of the economy including: agriculture; energy; health; transport and physical infrastructure; and water. A proposed National Climate Change law (now a bill) is expected to accelerate Uganda’s efforts to undertake adaptation and mitigation action across all the key sectors of the Ugandan economy.
Since the draft National Climate Change Bill, 2017 came out at the end of July 2017 for public review, the Climate Change Department in collaboration with different stakeholders have held several meetings involving Government Departments and Agencies; Civil Society Organizations; Private sector; Members of Parliament through the Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change, among others.
According to Mr Chebet Maikut - Commissioner of the Climate Change Department in the Ministry of Water and Environment, 'The proposed climate change law is deemed crucial in filling up the existing gaps in sectoral laws enacted by Parliament of Uganda'.
Equally, CSOs are optimistic that the proposed law will create a clear regulatory framework where all the actors in Uganda are obliged to collectively and individually take up climate change adaptation and mitigation actions.
In advancing the concerns already expressed by civil society on this draft climate change bill, we would like to petition you and other relevant law makers - that when this important Bill comes before the floor of Parliament of Uganda, the following specific glaring equitable and fairness related gaps must be addressed:
- Under the proposed National Climate Change Advisory Committee, wider representation is needed to include in the membership of the committee, a representative of the youth, a representative of cultural and traditional institutions. Therefore membership of the committee should be increased to include: Representative from National Youth council, Ministry of Education and Sports and Ministry of Gender Labour & Social Development.
- The draft Bill requires the Climate Change Department to prepare an annual report on climate change for consideration by Cabinet and Parliament and provides the major contents for that report. It is important that among the contents, there should be a specific section detailing special measures and initiatives carried out to make the most vulnerable communities and persons resilient to effects of climate change
- it is proposed that Uganda’s CC law should establish an annual multi-stakeholder climate change platform at both the national and district local governments for mutual accountability between duty bearers and the general public. These forums would also be very important in terms of promoting public participation in decision-making and access to climate change information. However, an elaboration of this should be done as much as possible to uphold this important step towards promoting sustainable development in Uganda (for example, a schedule on composition of the multi-stakeholder forum).
- The draft Bill is weak with respect to the question of public participation in climate change decision-making. To be progressive, Uganda’s climate change law should make it possible for the public to challenge decisions taken where there has not been meaningful participation.
- Similarly in relation to the Right to petition court in defense of climate change adaptation and mitigation, Uganda’s climate change law should provide for the right of any person to apply to court where a person or entity has acted in a manner that has or is likely to adversely affect efforts towards mitigation and adaptation to the effects of climate change.
A failure to address the above gaps will imply Business as Usual where citizens, communities, groups, private sector and legislators will NOT be in position to among others: promote robust measures to enhance public participation and accountability; impose the much needed duty on local governments to mainstream climate change in their policies, plans and budgets; require all the key sectors of Uganda's economy to implement climate change adaptation and mitigation plans through mobilization of the requisite resources.
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