We conclude the National Pastoral Stakeholders Technical Consultative Meeting in Uganda with Pastoralists’ Civil Society recommending certain clauses to add their voices on the Uganda draft Climate change Bill. This event hosted representatives from various sectors, including pastoralists’ organizations from all the pastoralist regions, youth, women, private sector and other actors working with pastoralist communities
While noting that pastoralism has traditional mechanisms and knowledge of dealing with an unreliable climate, participants underscored the unique nature of the practice that depends on nature for production and has high adaptability to the changing climate. Despite this, climate change was recognized as an aggravating factor to the now frequent climate induced challenges that pastoralists are currently facing. Participants deeply reflected on diverse and dynamic issues on pastoralism and climate change. Issues such as land rights, need for research to support adaptation measures that enhance the resilience of pastoral ecosystems, policy gaps in market mechanisms such as insurance and livestock off-setting during tough climate change times and need for enabling environment for pastoralist involvement and integration in climate change and environmental work were interrogated. Cognizant of the misconception that pastoralism equals under-development and is presented as an outdated, economically inefficient, chaotic and environmentally destructive practice, participants deeply interrogating these myths and challenged them. Participants noted that these perceptions play a major role in marginalizing pastoralist communities leaving them vulnerable to climate change. These perceptions unfortunately drive national policy development agenda.
Persistent under-valuation of pastoralism has effectively trapped millions of dry land pastoralists in a cycle of poverty, conflict and environmental degradation. Despite these challenges, pastoralism has immense potential to ensure food security, reduce poverty, manage the environment, promote sustainable development and build resilience due to effective use of land considered marginal for other productive uses. There is therefore dire need for both policy action and practical solutions to the climate change needs of pastoral communities.
At the end of the meeting, the following recommendations were made for consideration in the Climate change Bill:
On Minority and marginalized groups (including Indigenous peoples) inclusion and Integration in decision making;
The Climate change bill should explicitly take into consideration the rights of minorities in pursuant of Article 36 of the constitution of Uganda and in pursuant of Article 32 of the constitution and have their representation included in both the National and District Climate change Advisory Committees as marginalization makes them extremely vulnerable to climate change.
In view of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Paris Agreement acknowledgement of the Indigenous peoples, we recognize the unique context of the bill that although recognizes indigenous knowledge fails to recognize indigenous peoples within the bill. The climate change bill should therefore seek to take note and recognize within Article 2 (interpretation of marginalized groups) the reality that indigenous peoples and groups who are custodians of this knowledge form part of the minority and marginalized groups and their rights should be secured and safeguarded together with other minority groups by the Climate change Bill.
Local level climate change governance;
While the NEMA bill noted in part 2(Institutional arrangements) Section 13 and 14 gives mandate to the District and lower local level Environment Committees to assume the role that Climate change committees would undertake, we have concerns that this would not adequately address climate change issues due to the complexity of climate change issues. We recommend that the Environment Committees at the District and lower local government levels have the local Environment officers as designate focal points in the Committees for technical support and advice on climate change matters. We further recommend that representatives of local communities be incorporated in these committees. Where indigenous peoples’ groups live, the bill should give priority to the leaders of these communities.
On Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous Peoples rights;
In cognizant of the need for complimentary knowledge to science in responding to climate change, we recommend the inclusion of traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems in (Article 15, 3(a) and Article 16, 2 (a) of the bill.
Climate change processes at the international and regional arena have secured the rights of indigenous peoples and form part of the requirements for access to various climate opportunities such as climate finance.
We strongly recommend the explicit mention of indigenous peoples in Article 16, 3(e) to ensure integration of their involvement in climate projects and programmes approval in areas where such communities exist, a step that will give Uganda mileage in the climate change discourse.
On Land tenure and mobility;
We recognize the importance of land as a factor of production in facilitating response measures to climate change and note that pastoralism is a practice dependent on this factor of production. As a main source of livelihood that is threatened by climate change, we strongly recommend affirmative action in addressing climate induced challenges in pastoralism. Measures such as pasture production and conservation, water resource management for livestock use and proper land use practices that recognize pastoralist land use rights and tenure security can be explored.
In pursuant to solutions that enhance pastoral ecosystem resilience, we recommend that the bill equally recognizes livestock farming and incorporates representation of pastoralists and livestock farmers.
To provide highest resolve to advance solution oriented discussions in light of climate change, we recommend the presentation of pastoralists’ vulnerabilities on land by the representative of the Ministry responsible for Lands during the National Advisory Committee meeting in Section 2, 8. In line with our submission on lower local level climate change governance(part 1.1 of this recommendation document), we further call for representation of relevant local civil society and area cultural leaders at the District and lower local level Environment Committees structures in Section 2:13,14.
On environmental protection and conservation;
Cognizant of the fact that pastoralism is a practice that depends on the environment for its undertaking, we acknowledge the need to enhance resilience of pastoral ecosystems and propose the exploration and use of various environmentally sound pastoralism practices that incorporate various climate change response measures to enhance co-existence of pastoralism with nature.
In pursuant to this, the bill should recognize other supportive legislation such as rangeland management policy whose development and finalization should take into consideration the voice of pastoralist communities.
On public participation;
Whilst Section 22 of the draft bill provides for public participation, it does not recognize the special position and rights of indigenous people whose unique position requires deliberate, systemic engagement in climate –related action.
We propose that Section 22 further makes mandatory the free, prior and informed consent of pastoralists and other indigenous peoples in Uganda in processes related to mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
On Capacities for engagement;
In addition to other needs for implementation of the climate change bill once enacted, the state should put in place mechanisms to develop the capacity of its institutions to deliver climate action and support vulnerable communities to deal with climate change effects.
We therefore strongly call for the inclusion of capacity development of institutions and explicit mention of district and lower local level climate change departments to facilitate management of processes promoting the rights of vulnerable groups of people including women, children, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities.