By Spy Uganda
Heads of State and Ministers from the East and Horn of Africa will meet in Kampala, Uganda, from 27 to 29 July, to call for a more integrated approach and response to climate change, ahead of the 27th session of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) that will take place in Egypt from 7-18 November.
The three-day Regional Inter-Ministerial Conference on Migration, Environment and Climate Change seeks to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on human mobility.
After four consecutive failed rainy seasons, the East and Horn of Africa is currently experiencing the worst drought in four decades. Millions of people across the region have been displaced and are at risk of famine. The drought has already led to multiple deaths in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.
The increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events resulting from climate change directly forces people to move, negatively impacting livelihoods. These movements create new humanitarian needs and place pressure on resources vital for migrants, displaced persons and host communities, competing for already scarce resources.
It is imperative that the COP27 negotiations include the priorities raised by the 12 African States, including their youth.
“We have all known for years that climate change will force people to move and we see the evidence of this every day,” said António Vitorino, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). “We can no longer talk about climate change or environmental degradation, without talking about human mobility.”
The conference will call for an urgent response to address the impacts of climate change on human mobility across the continent, as well as highlight the adverse implications and the potential opportunities for the future of African sustainable and resilient development.
It is envisaged that the outcome of the conference will be a Declaration that contributes to raising the important topic of human mobility in the context of climate change at COP27, providing States in the region with a powerful platform at which urgent issues can be raised and addressed.
Addressing the media in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, Sam Cheptoris, Uganda’s Water and Environment Minister and host of the Conference, said: “The fact that COP27 is organized in the African continent provides a good opportunity for African States to bring their priorities to the global forum including on climate finance, adaptation, loss and damage and migration and displacement.”
Beatrice Atim Anywar, the country’s State Minister for Environment, says the conference is a timely call to action. “Our coming together is not only a collective expression of the level of prioritization of the East and Horn of Africa States on the impact of climate change on human mobility. It is a call for action, not just for the region and the continent, but for the world, and particularly those who will be engaging in negotiations at COP27.”
Some of the most severe impacts of climate change are felt most severe in Africa. Increases in surface temperatures and the rise in sea level have all been more rapid on the continent than anywhere else. Some of the largest temperature anomalies have been recorded in the East and Horn of Africa. Mount Kenya, Africa’s second largest mountain, is expected to be one of the first mountain ranges to lose glaciers due to climate change.
In Burundi, the rising waters of Lake Tanganyika have forced people from their homes, as have the landslides in Uganda. South Sudan is grappling with raging floods which have caused major displacement in parts of the country.
“To address the crucial nexus of migration, environment, and climate, we need to consider the issue of human mobility and ensure it is mainstreamed into global, regional, and national climate change policy frameworks and strategies. The conference offers a space and major opportunity to advance regional action to avert, minimize and address displacement related to climate change,” said Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Inter-Ministerial Conference is hosted by the Government of the Republic of Uganda, the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Regional Collaboration Centre (RCC) Kampala and other partners.