Over 150 youth from Uganda and across borders participated in the two-day Community Based Adaption (CBA11) Youth Conference aimed at engaging and sensitizing the youth on Community adaptation and resilience to climate change to raise awareness and build a climate change knowledge base and innovations.
The Youth Conference was held at Hotel Africana Kampala on June 28 and 29, 2017 and focused on the theme ‘Enhancing the Ability of Youth to Build Ecosystem Resilience’. It was an affiliation session parallel to the main CBA11 International conference held from 26th to 29th June 2017 at Royal Suites Bugolobi, Kampala.
The youth were practically engaged in dialogues and discussions on climate change adaptation, resilience and mitigation; climate smart agriculture; sustainable agricultural transformation in an era of climate change; youth skills and knowledge for long-term future planning; youth leadership for climate change resilience, gender equality and adaptation planning; skills and knowledge for climate action and sharing climate change experiences.
The youth conference was organized by Makerere University Centre for Climate Change Research and Innovations (MUCCRI) hosted at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) in collaboration with European Union (EU), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of United Nations, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the Ministry of Water and Environment.
Officially opening the Youth Conference, the chief Guest and FAO Country representative for Uganda, Alhaji M. Jallow highlighted that 90% of the disasters in the world are due to climate change and as a result, many ecosystems in Uganda have been degraded. He said the youth being the majority of the global population; they should be empowered and considered as resources that can drive agriculture and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
“The youth need to build their capacity to make them understand the drives of climate change and the actions needed to embattle the effects must be realized. Youth can build ecosystems, so we need to invest in building their capacity and resilience towards climate change and sustainable agricultural practices,” remarked Alhaji M. Jallow.
According to Alhaji Jallow, climate change is the greatest threat to agriculture that discourages the youth from practicing in it. He noted that when the effects of climate change are thoroughly addressed, many youth will be attracted to agribusiness and agricultural production and their attitude will change. This would impact on their consciousness to work together as a community to build the resilience of degraded ecosystems and ensure sustainable production of food, animal, feed and energy for the present and future generations.
“Agriculture being the major economic backbone of Uganda, yet climate change remains a great threat to it; the youth continue to be discouraged to join the activity. Through enhancing climate change adoption towards agribusiness, agricultural production can be achieved. This will greatly counteract with the food insecurity problem.” Alhaji Jallow said.
He further noted that FAO works towards agricultural sustainability and resilience and has put in place programmes supporting different youth activities including; programmes on water livestock production; supporting youth activities like the Annual School Farm Camp and international dialogues between Ugandan secondary schools and those in Europe. He added that they have to consolidate the available resources and also introduce new aspects to provide some kind of water source to the people. He thanked the European Union for funding the projects.
He commended the good collaboration and support by CAES towards research and environmental activities. He revealed FAO’s commitment to developing, training and financing youth towards climate change adaptation and mitigation and will work on knowledge sharing and capacity building for the youth. To build a world that everybody desires to live in, he urged the government, society organizations and development partners to increase their support for the youth towards climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu, the Makerere University Vice Chancellor informed participants that the CBA11 Youth Conference was a welcome opportunity to expose university students and other youth in public and private institutions to the latest information on key activities undertaken by different stakeholders to adapt and address climate change towards development of the nation. He noted that higher institutions of learning have a great role to play towards realizing climate change adaptation and mitigation.
“Institutions of higher learning should take a lead in addressing climate change adaptation by producing knowledgeable and multi-skilled graduates, providing evidence-based options and solutions to support formulation of interventions and appropriate policies for accelerating national and regional development. Makerere University is passionate about climate change and related research activities. It takes part in organizing and actively participating in activities aimed at engaging the youth in addressing the challenges of climate change,” the Vice Chancellor said.
In efforts to address the challenges of climate change, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu said that the institution established the Makerere University Climate Change Centre for Research and Innovations (MUCCRI) to enhance climate change research capacity, extension outreach and mainstream climate sciences in undergraduate programs at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).
He encouraged the youth to take lead in driving climate change adaptation and appealed to the participants to always seek for knowledge on climate change to pave for national and global development. He thanked the development partners for collaborating with Makerere University and also expressed gratitude to the Government of Uganda for supporting and endorsing Makerere University to host CBA11 Youth Conference.
The European Union (EU) Delegate to Uganda and Acting Head of Cooperation, Mr. Cedric Merel marked the youth conference as one of the platforms for the youth to be engaged in activities relevant for climate change adaption and mitigation. He appreciated the support and role played by education institutions in creating awareness about climate change. He also emphasized the need to integrate in a sustainable manner the youth in the programmes designed to address climate change.
“We insist on the fact that the youth are the main actors of all the actions carried out by EU. In everything we do, youth are the target group. We need to act to have a sensitization for the youth to be the champions of climate change who will sensitize others about climate chance adaptation. Youth are up to 70% of the population; this means that the power is your hands.”
Mr. Merel encouraged the youth to actively participate in the cause of climate change adaptation and express their ideas and innovations with a view of finally incorporating them into policy recommendations. He appealed to the youth to be ambassadors of climate change adaptation at all levels of climate change action including; local authorities, communities, research and innovation, academia and entrepreneurship.
Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, the Principal of Makerere University College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) said that climate change is broad and requires everyone’s efforts. He dubbed the youth as the backbone of the country, whose energy and interests should be utilized and put to good use in relation to climate change adaptation. He advocated for training the youth and availing them with knowledge and skills required to ambush the challenges of climate change.
“We should build our capacity basing on what we have. The university being the engine of capacity building, students should be engaged and equipped with skills to tackle climate change. CAES is taking leadership in terms of industrial training in relation to climate change. We are building platforms to tackle the areas of climate change.” Prof. Bashaasha mentioned.
The MUCCRI Coordinator, Dr. Revocatus Twinomuhangi said that it is important to promote climate change awareness, conduct research, generate and disseminate information on climate chance to influence climate change policies. He informed the participants that the youth conference was organized to enable the youth acquire the skills and knowledge they needed to address issues of climate change in their homes, communities and countries.
“There is no single sector that is not affected by climate change. We want to improve knowledge and skills to generate and disseminate information in relation to addressing climate change. However, the measures taken should not hinder our economic development, but to supplement on it. People should be guided on proper land use at national, regional and household levels for sustainable development.” Dr. Twinomuhangi remarked.
Dr. Twinomuhangi thus noted the need for a link between science and the policy makers. He added that climate change brings in challenges that cannot be foreseen due to the changing patterns in climate and weather. According to him, the climate is continuously changing faster than anticipated. For that reason, he advocated for continuous research, which MUCCRI is undertaking.
Addressing participants on Youth leadership for climate change resilience, Mr. Anthony Walimbwa, a delegate from Climate Action Network Uganda (CAN-U) informed the youth that they were the most vulnerable to effects of climate change since they have limited or no means to cope or adapt.
He said that youth unemployment rate in Uganda is 11%, and about 400,000 youth are released annually into the job market to compete for about 9,000 jobs. While the youth could generate their own employment opportunities, they have limited access to financing, land and technical support.
“While the impacts of climate change are unevenly distributed across different age groups and economic classes, the youth women and children are the most affected since they are poor segments of the population. However, the youth are energetic and have a potential to take on climate change challenges through green jobs.” Mr. Walimbwa said.
Ms. Daphine Nansambu, the youth representative at CBA11 assured her fellow youth that Climate change is real even though majority may not accept it. So, their input towards combating it is extremely significant. She reiterated the need for the youth to be equipped with relevant skills and knowledge to address the challenges of climate change.
“The youth need support in terms of capacity building. The young people are natural innovators and can embrace change, so they have to take the lead in addressing climate change. If guided in the right direction, we can be able to change the community. The decisions will be made, but the youth will be the ones to implement them. Therefore, they should take a stand towards climate change adaptation and resilience,” said Ms. Nansambu
At the closure of the youth conference, Mr. Paul Mafabi, the Director of Environmental Affairs at the Ministry of Water and Environment affirmed that the greatest causes of climate change arise from emission of gases and improper disposal of waste. As a result, he said that the Government has adopted a climate change policy to coordinate climate change actions in the country. He appealed to the youth to share the knowledge acquired from the conference with their colleagues, communities and universities.
“As youth, there is need to do something practical after the conference. Climate change should be domesticated for better understanding by the communities including the illiterate, poor and children. The youth are majority in Uganda, have energy, more innovative and will live longer. Meaning if proper interventions are not taken by them, they are bound to face tougher climate change impacts as well as the generations to come.”
Mr. Mafabi congratulated the youth, organizers and supporters for successfully conducting the youth conference parallel to the CBA11 international conference. He urged the organizers to immediately create a working group through which the participants of the conference could continue networking and dialoging. He thus encouraged the youth to ensure increased tree planting, proper garbage management and any other contribution within the available youth means. He eventually declared the CBA11 Youth Conference closed.
The CBA11 Youth Conference was attended by officials from Ministry of Water and Environment, Makerere University, International Water Management Institute (IWMI); Delegates from FAO, European Union, IIED, Climate Action Network Uganda (CAN-U); the media; representatives from the Youth Go Green Group and youth from national and international universities and higher institutions of learning.
It was revealed during the conference that Uganda would host the first Africa youth climate change conference in August, 2017, where youth from all African countries will be represented.