UNDP's Integrated Response.

By Gloria Namande

While the world is in the midst of an acute public health crisis and the largest economic shock of a generation, climate change remains one of the biggest global challenges of our time. As people around the world work together to flatten the curve of COVID-19, the role we play in Earth’s natural system remains crucial. We have seen that globally, emissions have reduced and fallen across continents as countries imposed lockdowns and restrictions to contain the spread of the COVID-19. According to the recent IEA Global Energy Review 2020, the global carbon dioxide emissions are 5% lower in quarter one of 2020 than quarter one of 2019. Countries and cities are witnessing clear and sunny skies thanks to the lockdown measures that have kept most people in their homes.

This sudden dip in the emissions is believed to have a short-lived impact while the overall greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase the concentration of earth-warming gases in the atmosphere. However, this time, policymakers have an opportunity to rectify negative developments and promote a better pathway to decarbonization.

UNDP’s response

UNDP’s offer to the COVID-19 response is three pronged: We support countries to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the pandemic in a robust manner. In Uganda, UNDP’s support to the government of Uganda includes socio-economic assessments, the provision of digital solutions for business continuity in the public sector, as well as coordination and resource mobilization. In consideration of the climate crisis, UNDP’s response also provides renewable energy to support health systems, strengthening justice, law and order, water and sanitation and resilience in refugee settlements.

In supporting the government’s response to COVID-19, UNDP has provided a collaboration tool, Zoom, and an assortment of gadgets to enable virtual government business continuity as the novel coronavirus affects routine operations in several ministries, departments and agencies.

Virtual trainings held

As part of the Business Continuity Plan, through its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) Support Programme, UNDP in collaboration with the government – through the Ministry of Water and Environment’s Climate Change Department – successfully conducted virtual trainings on financial management and reporting for the six local groups and organizations that have been awarded the climate action challenge grants. This was conducted from April 24 to 25, 2020.

The climate action challenge grants were designed to foster participation of women and youth-led groups and organizations to start initiatives and scale up interventions that contribute to the implementation of Uganda’s climate actions. The grants were initiated to empower youth and women to take leadership and become champions of climate action. The grants are envisaged to lead to substantial impact through innovation, replication and sustainability of climate actions.

These organizations are well represented across the country in East, West, North and Central Uganda and are implementing solutions to support the communities adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The solutions range from the use of renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies, climate-smart agriculture technologies and sustainable forest management practices. These technologies include biogas, briquettes, energy-efficient cook stoves, mobile drip irrigation, tree planting and digital applications for waste management.

Energy efficient technologies such as use of briquets can reduce indoor air pollution and help mitigate the effects of climate change
More efficient cooking stoves can reduce smoke inhalation with significant health benefits, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, slowing deforestation and providing a host of social benefits.

The organizations whose members participated in the training include Uganda Muslim Rural Development Association (UMURDA), Youth for Community Empowerment, Jane-Kidi Memorial Tree Planting Group, Community Empowerment and Rehabilitation Initiative for Development (CERID), Yo-waste Mobile Applications and Friends of Nature Uganda.

The Zoom training enabled the organizations to understand the financial and accountability systems of UNDP, reporting formats and timelines. During the trainings, the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) for each organization were discussed to highlight the implications for the implementation stakeholders and the deliverables for their projects.

From the virtual digital training held, it is clear that we can continue to address the climate crisis simultaneously to the COVID-19 health crisis. With digital solutions, we can still make tangible progress on our efforts to promote a low-carbon development pathway and achieve the transformational change we desire.

UNDP’s NDC Support Programme is funded by the European Union and the governments of Germany and Spain as a contribution to the NDC Partnership.

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