Kampala’s Mayor Urges Immediate Action on Climate Change in Culminating Workshop

The final module workshop of the 2022-2023 cohort of the Human Rights and Gender Equality in Climate and Disaster Displacement program held in Kampala, concluded with a passionate address from the city’s Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago.

The Mayor emphasized the urgent need for immediate action to combat climate change and tackle pressing environmental challenges facing the city.

Participants in the workshop, representing organizations from Nairobi, Kampala and Freetown, gathered to network and present the work they had accomplished throughout the course of the program which started in October 2022.

The workshop was organized by Lund University as part of a capacity-building program focused on developing City Profiles to contribute directly to the Global Mayors Action Agenda on Climate and Migration.

In his address on Monday, Lukwago underscored the gravity of climate change and its impacts on Kampala, emphasizing several key concerns.

“Climate change is a looming crisis that requires our immediate attention. We must take action now to combat climate change and safeguard our environment,” he said.

The program in collaboration with Lund University’s Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, aims to strengthen the capacity of municipal authorities to tackle these critical issues.

Lukwago stressed the centrality of climate change displacement and the need to prioritize it in municipal engagements, stating, “We must address the displacement caused by climate change and ensure the safety of our citizens.”

Despite having strategies and policy instruments in place to address climate change, Kampala faces challenges exacerbated by demographic pressures, with a high population growth rate of 5.2% in the city.

Lukwago expressed concern about the ongoing destruction of wetlands and green belts within the city, emphasizing that these vital ecological areas continue to be encroached upon, threatening the environment.

Lukwago highlighted that many of the disasters in Kampala are human-induced, leading to ecological imbalances. He called for better disaster preparedness mechanisms and the need for the city to take responsibility for its actions.

“The floods in Kampala can be managed, they are not very bad. It’s just the poor planning,”

Addressing the issue of financing environmental interventions, Lukwago highlighted the profound challenge it presents. He has urged potential funders and stakeholders to step forward and contribute to the cause.

“We need more than words; we need funds and concrete interventions to address these pressing environmental challenges.” Lukwago said.

He highlighted existing initiatives by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), such as the Climate Change Action Plan, the Green Infrastructure Ordinance, disaster profiling and emphasized the need for swift implementation.

The Mayor also drew attention to the alarming air quality in Kampala, which falls significantly below the standards recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). He called for concrete actions to address this issue, emphasizing, “We cannot afford to ignore the health impacts of poor air quality any longer.”

Matthew Scott, a senior researcher and the leader of the Human Rights and the Environment thematic area at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, delivered insightful feedback regarding the participants of the workshop.

Scott emphasized the significance of the city profiles development and issued a compelling challenge to the participants, urging them to translate their actionable recommendations into concrete actions for implementation.

Magdalena Ellfors, Project Manager at the Swedish Institute, also presented during the event, shedding light on the Institutes work in capacity building and change making in areas of human rights, climate aspects of environmental sustainability and intervention.

Barbra Kiwanuka, one of the participants from Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), expressed her appreciation for Lund University’s commendable capacity-building programs.

She highlighted the potential of these programs to empower and equip teams with the knowledge and skills necessary to address pressing climate related challenges effectively.

As climate change and environmental issues continue to gain global attention, Lukwago’s call to action serves as a reminder of the immediate need for tangible solutions to protect the environment and the well-being of Kampala’s residents.