Civil Society and Youth Activists Trained on Uganda’s New Climate Law

Published By UNNGOF |  December 9, 2022

By Kimbowa Richard, Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development  

On February 22, 2022, Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development, JEEP (as members of INFORSE East Africa), through the East African Civil Society for Sustainable Energy and Climate Action (EASE CA) Project, organized training on Uganda’s recently enacted Climate and Environmental laws. It was attended by 20 Coalition members and youth activists and facilitated by Mr. Hussein Kato Muyinda from Earth and Rights Initiative and Mr. Turyakira Robert from Environmental Shield. It was held at JEEP Folkecenter in Kyanja, Kampala.

The objective of the training was to flag the key sections/clauses in the Uganda Climate Law (2021) that are of interest for CSO endeavors to push for climate action at national and global levels. It also sought to highlight salient sections of the National Environment Act (2019) that CSOs can use to promote climate action in Uganda and beyond.

Uganda’s Climate Change Act (2021) governs Uganda’s national response to climate change. One of the stated purposes of the Act is to give effect to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement. Section 4 gives these agreements the force of law in Uganda. Among others, the Act mandates the creation of a Framework Strategy on Climate Change, a National Climate Action Plan, and District Climate Action Plans. It also contains a series of provisions establishing a transparency framework and Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system; Section 9 of the Act permits the Minister responsible for Climate Change matters to develop further regulations regarding participation in climate change mechanisms such as Emissions Trading Mechanisms, and Section 23 allows the Minister to make additional regulations regarding the responsibilities of private entities; Part V of the Act relates to the institutional arrangements for governing climate change, creating a National Climate Change Advisory Committee to provide independent technical advice and clarifying the responsibilities of District and local governments with respect to climate change; Article 26 concerns climate change litigation, with broad provisions on standing to bring cases before the High Court against the Government, an individual, or private entity “whose action or omission threatens or is likely to threaten efforts towards adaptation to or mitigation of climate change”.

In addition, Uganda has taken a bold and long overdue step to revamp its 24-year-old environmental law, the National Environment Act (1995). An amendment was necessary given the massive infrastructure projects in the energy sector, the planned infrastructure of a refinery and pipelines in the oil and gas space, the imminent production of oil, increasing urbanization and the consequent pressures on land, and climate change. The National Environment Act (NEA, 2019) establishes an Environmental Protection Force as a specialized unit to enforce it. It also creates new offences and greatly enhances the penalties, both in monetary fines and custodial sentences. 

  1. Hussein Muyinda highlighted Section 4 of the National Environmental Act (2019) on the Rights to Nature which now recognizes that nature has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions, and processes in evolution. “In this regard, a person has the right to bring an action before a competent court for any infringement of rights of nature under this Act,” he underscored.  
  2. Turyakira highlighted NGOs’ role as environmental defenders in the context of increased environmental decay across the country. “The climate law gives full force to implement Uganda’s obligations under the UNFCCC,” he pointed out. He further noted that the law orders District Natural Resources Committees to integrate climate change matters within development plans, projects, and budgets before the respective Councils approve. Failure to do so means they can be taken to a competent court to provide answers.

Read more about Uganda’s Climate Act (2021): & the National Environment Act (2019):