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The CBA11 International Conference on Climate Change opens in Kampala


L-R: IIED Director for climate Change Clare Shakya, Chair LDC Gebru Endalew, VC Makerere University Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu, Min. fof Water and Environment Hon Sam Cheptoris, Permanent Secretary Min. of Water and Environment  Mr. Okidi, Ireland Ambassodor to Uganda HE. Donal Cronin and the UNEP representative Mette Wilkie during the opening ceremony at Royal Suites Bugolobi-Kampala

The 11th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA11) has been officially opened by Uganda’s Minister of Water and Environment Hon. Sam Cheptoris.at the Royale Suites Bugolobi Kampala.

The conference  was opened on 26th June, 2017 and also graced by  the Ambassador of Ireland  to Uganda H.E Donal Cronin, IIED  Climate Change Director  Clare Shakya,  the United Nations Environmental Program representative Mette Wilkie and,the Chair, Least Developed Countries’ Gebru Endalew.

The CBA11 was organized by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Uganda’s Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), Makerere University Centre for Climate Change Research and Innovations (MUCCRI) and the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD).


Makerere University Conference Organisers: Prof. Bernard Bashaasha Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (2nd), Dr. Revocatus Twinomuhangi - Coordinator MUCCRI (3rd) and his predicessor Lynne  Carter (R) a moments after the opening ceremony

The conference attracted 200 International participants and 100 Local participants focusing on empowering communities to use their own knowledge and decision-making processes to take action on climate changeunder the theme“, Harnessing natural resources and ecosystems for adaptation”.

Officiating at the opening session, the Minister for Water and Environment Sam Cheptorissaid,climate change poses the greatest threat to development, not only in Uganda, but in almost all the developing countries in particular and the entire globe in general.

“There isno longer any doubt that the global climate system ischanging.The latest scientific information given by the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that there is 95% certainty that climate change is caused by human beings, and global warming poses serious development and environmental problems with far-reaching social and economic consequences.The very existence of communities in countries like Uganda is particularly threatened by erosion of their natural resource capital by the impacts of climate change.” Cheptoris added


              Uganda's Water and Environment Minister , Sam Cheptories making his opening  remarks

The Minister applauded the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and theorganizers of the Community Based Adaptation Conferences for taking the initiative to mobilize policy and decision makers, academicians, researchers and climate change adaptation practitioners to discuss this important subject area that focuses on empowering communities to use their own knowledge and decision-making processes to take action on climate change. 

Cheptoris noted that the theme of the CBA11 conferencewas directly relevant to the host country Uganda, whose economy and livelihood of her rural communities largely depends on its natural resources and most especially, its climate.

“I am informed that the programme for the CBA 11 conference has been designed to enhance the capacity of practitioners, governments and donors to scale up and support community-based adaptation. I therefore challenge the distinguished delegates to come up with practical solutions on climate change adaptation that can be embraced and adopted by the vulnerable communities who live in the rural areas in Uganda and other least developed countries”. He said.


                           Minister Sam Cheptoris addreessing the delegates

He stressed that Uganda in the past decades witnessed numerous extreme climate events emphasizing that different parts experienced record- breaking occurrence of floods,prolonged droughts and erratic rainfall patterns.

The minister reported that the worst impacts are on those with least resilience and adaptive capacity.

“Uganda’s capacity to help the affected, especiallythe local communities, to cope is very limited. This is compounded by the fact that Uganda’s economy is heavily dependent on natural resources. Attainment of the country’s socio-economic development goals as spelt out in the Uganda Vision 2040 and the National Development Plan are therefore being curtailed”.

The Hon Minister pointed out that the mountainous ecosystems like Rwenzori ranges, Elgon Region and Muhavura with respect to biodiversity and tourism have not been spared either noting that the glaciers on Mt. Rwenzori have been melting at an alarming rate affecting water availability.

“The warming of mountainous areas has extremely affected wildlife species like the mountain gorillas in South Western Uganda, the Rwenzori leopard and the Rwenzori Red Duiker, since they usually live at altitudes above 3,000m at colder climates”.


A section of participants during the opening ceremony Najjemba hall Royal suites Hotel

Other species under threat are the three-horned chameleon, whose range is shifting upwards as a result of rising temperatures.

Cheptoris revealed that the landslides and floods which occurred in Rwenzori mountains have led to loss of fertile soil due to erosion, and increase in the displacement of people as was the case in Kasese in 2013 and 2014.

On the side of Agriculture, Cheptoris said that the sector is fundamental to the Ugandan economy, employing about 66 % of the working population in 2009/10 and contributing about 23.1% to total GDP.

“The vulnerability assessment of the agriculture sector in Uganda reveals that agriculture is highly vulnerable to climatechange and the national food supply relies on adaptation that is successful. The low level of income, high poverty levels, and high population is affecting the ability of most households to adapt to climate change”. The minister re-affirmed.


The Permanent Secretary Ugandas' Ministry of Science and Technology Mr. O Obong ( 2nd in red tie) also attended.

The Minister re-affirmed that Climate change is an all-encompassing threat and challenges our very own survival and existence.

He said in order to address its challenges, Uganda like other developing countries has taken strides both at policy and strategic levels to come up with responses to promote Community Based Adaptation including developing the National Adaptation Programs of Actions (NAPAs) in 2007, the National Climate Change Policy, ratification of the UNFCCC and the development of a Green Growth Development Strategy among others.

He disclosed that the country is in the process of drafting the National Climate Change Bill following the recent approval of the principles of the bill by the cabinet.


L-R:The PS Ministry of Science and Technology O.Obong interacts with Dr. Saleemul Huq, ICCCAD  and Minister Sam Cheptoris after the opening ceremony

The Vice Chancellor Makerere University, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamuin his submission observed that the theme of the conferencee is in line with the global development agenda agreed on by world leaders to build resilient societies.

“The global development agenda as implied in the Sustainable Development Goals is geared .at transforming society, it is gratifying that the Sustainable Development Goals have included education broadly as a proven vehicle for sustainability. As academic institutions, we are committed to adapt our training to address these issues related to sustainability,” he promised.


Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Ddumba Ssentamu making his welcome remarks during the opening ceremony 

He noted that effective adaptation to climate change takes place at community level saying a bottom-up approach to adaptation enables local knowledge and practices to be shared among communities, academics and project managers so that those most exposed to the impacts of climate change are better able to adapt.

The Vice Chancellor  added that the vision of Makerere University is to be the leading institution for academic excellence and innovations in Africa while the core functions are Teaching and learning, Research and Innovations as well as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and Networking.


ICCCAD's Dr. Saleemul Huq interacts with Prof. John Ddumba -Ssentamu after the opening

Thus, he said, the conference is in line with Makerere’s vision and core functions.

“I am happy to report that in 2012, the Makerere University Centre for Climate Research and Innovations (MUCCRI) was launched in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to Strengthen East African Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation Capacity through Training, Research and Policy Interventions,

Through MUCCRI, the university has brought together researchers and scientists from within and outside, government officials, civil society, and private sector actors to collaborate and locally address climate change, share information, and solve problems on adaptation technologies and research.

We are also using MUCCRI as a vehicle to improve and support undergraduate, graduate, diploma, and post-graduate education in climate science, meteorology, and climate adaptation and mitigation,” he explained.

The Director of Climate Change Group International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) Clare Shakya said the role of non-state actors such as sub national govts, municipalities, businesses and NGOs  are proving to be more important than ever.


IIED's Clare Shakya and  Chair, LDCs Negotiators Group Gebru Endalew during the opening ceremony

She however said, despite the fact that businesses recognise that climate change affects their bottom line, action is still too slow.

“Some governments are uncertain what their adaptation priorities should be. Many donors are nervous about what is adaptation and what is development. They are uncertain what they should invest in – this is most visible in the Green Climate Fund, but bilateral are uncertain too”.

Shakya observed that those working at the front line of climate action are not operating at sufficient scale underscoringthe need to reach 100s of millions, not 100s of thousands and work through govt systems & institutions, not in parallel.

“We need to reflect critically on our experience – and answer the question, what can truly work at scale, what will be transformational? And we need to build the confidence of our govts, of businesses, of donors and the climate funds to invest in what really works”. Shakya said.

She challenged participants to refresh the CBA community of practice, their purpose and approach so as to be more influential in these debates.


                              A section of the delegates attending the conference

Shakya also advised governments to tackle root causes of vulnerability by engaging the poor in setting priorities as they understand local complexity to resolve trade-offs and also tackle rights to land, assets, build inclusive governance and accountability.

She further advised governments to invest in the longer-term investments by building effective institutions, systems and skills through working with local governments and development banks, local private sector to reach scale.

The ambassador of Ireland Donald Cronin assured the delegates that the European Union of which Ireland is a member is fully committed to implement the Pairs agreement.

The Paris Agreement was adopted by 195 countries in December 2015. It demonstrates together with 2030 Agenda for Sustainable  Development  the collective responsibility each of the patner states can do within its limits to protect the environment  to sustain life and in particular adapt to the impacts of climate change.


The Ambassador of Ireland to Uganda, Donal Cronin ( L) addressing the delegates during the opening ceremony

“We re-affirm that the Paris agreement is fit for a purpose and cannot be renegotiated, the agreement is ambitious yet not prescriptive and allows each part to forge it path, in contributing to the goals that serve to combat climate change which threatens development peace and stability around the world, “he said.

He said this is evidenced in its increased support for developing countries tackling climate change to more than Euros 36m per year.

“Ireland is on track to meet its commitments made at COP21 in Paris to scale up climate finance by providing accumulative total of at least Euros 175m in public funding by 2020,” he said.

The Ambassador however said the EU deeply regrets the unilateral decision by the united states administration to withdraw from the Paris agreement.

He warned that the partner states were in 2017 - another crucial and more difficult phase of implementation and action.

“The scale of the change required, in both policy and mindset, may cause many to feel overwhelmed or even powerless. The Paris Agreement is global in its reach and implications, leaving us with the challenge of delivering global consciousness and globally responsible actions”, he asserted.

The ambassador applauded Uganda for showing commitment to securing a prosperous future for its people by implementing the Paris Agreement and working to achieve its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).


                                    A section of the conference participants

He welcomed the directive by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development to all sectors toincorporate climate change in their planning, budgeting and reporting process.

“Uganda is among the first countries in the NDC Partnership and has recently launched the National Adaptation Plan process. We must all learn from the leadership that Uganda is showing”, The ambassador commended.

He reminded delegates that they have a historic opportunity to lay foundations of a new model for human flourishing and social harmony – one that is shared between all those who dwell on this planet, and one that is shared, too, between this generation and those yet to come.

“Let us commit today, together, to make this promise thrive and bloom”, He concluded.


Article compiled by:

Jane Anyango,

Communication Officer,

Makerere University,

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).

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