Uganda’s private sector commits to tackling climate change

May 8, 2015

Members of Uganda's Private Sector sign an artistic impression of the declaration to reduce carbon emissions in the country (Photo Credit; UNDP Uganda / LECB

Kampala - Representatives of Uganda’s private sector have today signed a declaration to actively engage in efforts to address climate change in the country. This was during the two-day workshop convened by the Climate Change Department of the Ministry of Water and Environment in partnership with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Makerere University Private Sector Forum, from 7-8 May 2015 at the Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo in Kampala.

The workshop initiated a public-private dialogue and explored opportunities for private sector engagement and financing in climate change mitigation activities. It brought together over 100 private sector representatives, technical experts, policy makers and agencies supporting greenhouse gas mitigation actions. Speaking at the workshop, the UNDP Country Director, who was represented by the Assistant Country Director, Ms. Patience Lily Alidri, reiterated the importance of the private sector in climate change mitigation.

“The Private Sector can no longer afford to remain on the sidelines. Your partnership is essential in reducing emissions and adopting a green growth development path", she said.

Climate change mitigation, which broadly covers tackling the root cause of greenhouse gas emissions and adoption and use of clean technologies such as solar, is important in Uganda’s context as a contributor to the sustainable development of the country. Uganda's National Development Plan (NDP) emphasizes among the strategic objectives under climate change, the need to promote the low carbon development pathway and climate-proof the country's national development. There is evidence that average temperatures in Uganda have increased as much as 1.4 degrees Centigrade since 1960s. Climate change effects such as floods, prolonged droughts and landslides are already affecting the livelihoods of millions of people.  Under the Kyoto Protocol (Annex I), to which Uganda is signatory, countries agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through the Kyoto mechanisms such as emissions trading, clean development mechanism and joint implementation.

The private sector, important allies in climate change mitigation

Although Uganda’s private sector is one of the biggest emitters of carbon, little has been done to rally them to engage in or finance climate change mitigation actions. The Munyonyo workshop discussed several ways of engagement, including, undertaking investment and technological innovations that strengthen low carbon growth, financing climate change mitigation measures, adopting lower carbon production processes, and encouraging and facilitating more climate conscious purchasing decisions by consumers. 

In a speech read for him by Ms Flavia Munaba Nabugera, the Minister of State for Environment, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda, Rt. Honorable, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda noted that the climate change financing needs of Government are enormous and public sector alone could not sufficiently carry the burden of low-carbon development.

“This means that the largest share of additional investment would have to come from the private sector, which is already responsible for the largest share of climate financing globally through the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI)”, he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Water and Environment, Mr. Chebet Maikut, the Commissioner for Water and Environment and the national focal point for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) warned that businesses would be impacted by climate change, whether through their core operations, their supply chains, changes in customer demand, or larger macroeconomic shocks.

“It is time for the private sector to think carefully about what climate change may mean for their companies and to embrace climate change mitigation”, he warned.

Representatives of the private sector appreciated the workshop for not only creating awareness but also giving them a platform for sharing information on funding opportunities and clean development mechanisms in climate change mitigation.

“The private sector should not only look at climate change mitigation as a cost of production. There are business opportunities such as recycling, renewable energy, gas production and water treatment, said Ismail Muwanga, the Executive Director of Luuka Plastics, a local plastics manufacturing company.

In his keynote address delivered by the Executive Director for Uganda Industrial Research Institute, Mr. Charles Kwesigwa, the Governor Bank of Uganda, Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, said some financial institutions were already engaged in financing climate change mitigation actions.

“We welcome and support those private financial institutions that are taking enhanced actions to align their activities to low-carbon growth strategies. They are playing a key role in mobilizing private capital, necessary to achieve transformation to a low-carbon economy”, he said.

In his closing remarks, Dr John-Hawkins Asiedu, Minister Counselor and Commercial at Ghana Embassy in Turkey who also shared Ghana’s experience in engaging the private in climate change mitigation called upon the private sector to take advantages of the opportunities in climate change mitigation and to dialogue with government and come up with a common ground on how they can be facilitated in their operations. “This is best achieved through a vibrant public–private partnership (PPP)”, he said.

The workshop was organized under the auspices of the UNDP- supported Low Emissions Capacity Building (LECB) project, being implemented by the Ministry of Water and Environment – Climate Change Department in collaboration with Makerere University Private Sector Forum.

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