Ahead of the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, the Government of Uganda, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UNFCCC’s and East African Development Bank (EADB)’s Regional Collaboration Centre (RCC), is organizing a three-day, High-Level, Inter-Ministerial Conference on Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC).
The conference will be held from 27th to 29th July 2022 at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala, Uganda and attended by H.E. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who is the Chief Guest.
The objective of this Conference according to organizers is to support the development of an integrated approach to climate change-induced migration in Africa, and to develop outcomes that will contribute to raising migration issues at the global level for serious consideration, such as at COP 27.
The High-Level Inter-Ministerial Conference seeks to convene relevant Ministers of Environment (or those who oversee Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction/Management); Ministers of Interior (or those who oversee migration); and Ministers of Foreign Affairs as well as their respective technical experts, from the 12 countries under the IGAD, EAC and the IOM East and Horn of Africa Regions: Burundi, Djibouti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda.
Also expected to attend are Egypt, as host of COP-27; Senegal, as current presidency of the African Union; and other relevant stakeholders such as the Director General of IOM; the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC; the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC); and the African Union Commission.
Addressing the Media on Friday 22nd July, 2022 at the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) headquarters in Luzira, Kampala Hon. Sam Cheptoris, Minister of Water and Environment said the Conference is geared towards developing an integrated approach to climate change induced mobility across the region and it is envisaged that the outcome of the Conference will contribute to raising the important topic of human mobility in the context of climate change, at the global level for serious consideration.
Hon.Cheptoris said the Horn of Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate variability and climate change. He noted that the region regularly faces a wide range of natural hazards and slow-onset events and processes leading to different forms of human mobility (displacement, migration, returns and planned relocation).
He further explained that Disasters linked to natural hazards, environmental degradation, and the adverse effects of climate change are amongst the leading and overlapping drivers of human mobility. The region is most often affected by floods, landslides, and tropical cyclones, as well as slow-onset events and processes, such as severe droughts, water level rise, environmental degradation, and changing rainfall variability.
Individual migration decisions are often based on a combination of these environmental and other economic, political, social, and demographic drivers, according to Cheptoris.
‘’ Climate change will force people to move and we see the evidence of this every day here in Uganda. Therefore, we can no longer talk about climate change or environmental degradation, without talking about climate change induced human mobility, including migration and displacement. A case in point is the Buduuda landslides where we have had to relocate some of the surviving communities to Kiryandongo District and other safer areas. The other is the R. Nyamwamba that keeps flooding because of the snow on Mt. Rwenzori is melting away as a result of rising temperatures due to climate change and environmental degradation. This has caused loss and damage of property, lives, livelihoods, including government infrastructures’’, noted Cheptoris.
The High-Level, Inter-Ministerial Conference will take the following format; Day 1 &2 – 27th & 28th July: High-Level technical meetings to develop a joint Communiqué/Declaration on climate change induced migration in the East and Horn of Africa and Panel discussion with youth representatives from the 12 Member States while Day 3 (29th) July, is for Ministerial meeting to endorse the joint Communiqué/Declaration.
The Theme of the conference is- Enhancing cooperation in relation to climate change induced human mobility, including migration, displacement and planned relocation.
Sanusi Tejan Savage, the Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Uganda said the conference will also bring together relevant Ministers of Environment and the Ministers who manage Migration and their technical experts, from the 12 countries under the IGAD, EAC and the IOM East and Horn of Africa Regions namely Burundi, Djibouti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda and other African member states.
The conference will conclude with the signing of a joint Declaration by States as a landmark for enhancing regional cooperation in relation to climate change induced human mobility, including migration, displacement and planned relocation. The Declaration, amongst other objectives, will provide a standpoint from which the 12 States intend to articulate regional priorities with respect to the negotiations planned at COP27, with particular focus on the adverse impact of climate change on human mobility.
Margaret Athieno Mwebesa, the Commissioner, in charge for Climate Change at the Ministry of Water and Environment urged all stakeholders and the general public to pick interest and participate in activities of the Conference on Migration, Environment and Climate Change and be a part of the first ever event that will discuss the link between Migration, environment and climate change in Africa.