Climate change is a global event that has created present and future challenges for national economies. Extreme weather conditions have had a massive impact on infrastructure and businesses particularly those reliant on predictability of seasons. In the wake of growing national populations and economic demands, in order for economies to cope with this changing natural landscape, there is a need for restructuring of infrastructure, and businesses.
In November-December 2015 representatives for over 190 countries will meet in the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (also called COP21), and they will aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. This is likely to globally change how business is run. Innovation and adaptation may become important key words.
Many high-income countries have been able to harness technological progress to create sustainable solutions, whereas low and middle income countries, are yet to find sustainable solutions to the ever-growing climate change related challenges. Despite having some of the fastest growing economies, low and middle income countries also have the highest population growth rates, creating a growing demand in sustainable energy, nutritious food, good environmental and personal health and clean water.
East Africa’s economies are heavily reliant on subsistence cultivation; rain fed agriculture, while the large majority of the population relies on wood fuel for energy. Heavy, erratic rainfall and prolonged severe droughts have severely impeded East Africa from realising its economic and social development targets. Increases in flash floods, have led to destruction of infrastructure, contamination of water sources, outbreak of water-borne diseases (diarrhoea and cholera), waterlogging of agricultural fields and washing away of crops, while droughts, which have led to an increase in health problems, exacerbated water scarcity problems, which have an impact on power generation, poor planting seasons, limited water supply and reduced water quality, especially in semiarid areas.
Developed economies like Norway, through its Embassies in East Africa, support East Africa in reaching its ambitious policy objectives by supporting development of sustainable solutions for increased power production, increased access to modern energy services and effective utilization of weather and climate information for proper management of water and environmental resources. For instance, Uganda now has on-going projects within geothermal energy, wind, hydro, solar- and bioenergy to mention but a few. Renewable energy is the most important source in Uganda’s energy production, and within 2017, it is planned that it shall cover 67 per cent of Uganda’s energy demand. Uganda has a number of Clean Development Mechanism Projects (CDM) within Renewable Energy though the number is still low.
The Royal Embassies of Norway in East Africa are promoting a more climate friendly development path, by providing policy advice on why a low carbon path should be chosen, and by supporting renewable energy projects. Adoption of new, efficient technologies and renewable energies can contribute to reducing and preventing harmful emissions.
It is also understood that to increase power production substantially private investments are important to bring in capital, competence, and technology. The new market-based mechanisms (CDM) have led to incentivized private sector participation and involvement towards climate change mitigation. Norway, East Africa and the private companies have joint interest in a successful development of the power sector in East Africa that responds to climate change challenges.
The Royal Embassy of Norway in Kampala, Uganda and the University of Bergen are promoting the sharing of knowledge and skills in regards to understanding the challenges of climate change and sustainable solutions in the current context. One important aspect of this is to connect Norwegian businesses, which operate within the sectors of renewable energy, and technological solutions, with low income countries that have the task of meeting greater economic demands.
The climate conference November 12th 2015 – just before the United Nations 2015 Paris Climate Conference, COP21 in Paris – will focus on how the Paris efforts can be supported by cooperation and collaboration between Norwegian and East African business can create and promote innovative solutions to address climate change challenges and lead to growth and value creation in both countries. It will build on previous conferences in Kampala this year, one organised by UNDP on the private sector funding for climate change and one organised by EU on climate change diplomacy. The proposed agenda will showcase examples of this from both Norway and East Africa, and especially from collaboration projects between the partner regions.
The goal is to show that sustainable solutions and technology can be harnessed to create business opportunities for the mutual benefit of East Africa and Norway and to create a meeting place for decision makers and agents of change to meet.
The conference aims to have speakers and participants with theoretical and practical experience in operating businesses within the East African context.
The University of Bergen and Makerere University will be responsible for convening the conference in close cooperation with Innovation Norway and the Royal Embassy of Norway in Kampala.
The conference is targeting participation from Government officials, heads of businesses, civil society and members of academia in East Africa.