On Wednesday 30th August at the Serena Kampala Hotel, a transformative event unfolded —the birth of the Alliance for Climate Resilience (ACR). This wasn't just another launch; It was the response to a crisis that knows no borders, a battle cry against climate change. The alliance is one forged in the crucible of global warming, one that is going to require relentless dedication, national unity, and audacious commitments.
At its helm is the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) determined to lead by example. The ACR’s vision is clear: to operate their businesses with an unwavering commitment to the environment and society, not just within the confines of their workplaces, but throughout the very communities the oil and gas projects touch.
In pursuit of this vision, UNOC meticulously crafted an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Strategy, a roadmap with six critical priorities. Among these priorities, the Alliance for Climate Resilience shone as a beacon of hope. This initiative was a rallying cry for stakeholders from both public and private sectors, international development partners, environmental funds, carbon market players, and more. Together a sustainable response to climate change has been formed, emphasizing both mitigation and adaptation.
During the launch of ACR, UNOC’s ESG lead, Dr Michael Mugerwa communicated that a reforestation and afforestation plan has been formed aimed at planting 40 million trees across 40,000 to 100,000 hectares. Forestry, once ravaged, will now be restored to its former glory. It is important to note that the project is not just about aesthetics; it was about tackling the 1,000,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions that will result from Uganda's crude oil refining.
The Alliance's mission spans far beyond planting trees. It encompasses fostering climate-related local content, aligning projects with global and national climate goals, ensuring equitable benefits for communities, attracting investments, and working across sectors like agroforestry, industrial decarbonization, and clean cooking.
The Alliance for Climate Resilience is clearly more than just a lofty concept; it has tangible objectives. It aims to bolster carbon emissions uptake through forest and wetland conservation, galvanize climate financing, support local communities against climate-related perils, champion clean cooking methods, spread grassroots awareness about climate change, and elevate Uganda's global prominence in the fight against climate change.
As the historic event wound down, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Nankabirwa Ruth spoke passionately. She emphasized the delicate balance between conservation and development, and how the Alliance could pave the way for projects like oil and gas to coexist harmoniously with the environment.
Board member Zulaika Kasajja, standing in for UNOC's Chairman, Emmanuel Katongole, voiced unwavering confidence. The Alliance, she affirmed, held the key to lasting solutions against climate change's relentless march.
But perhaps the most compelling words came from UNOC's CEO, Proscovia Nabbanja. She refused to let climate change remain a distant threat. Quoting the Global Forest Watch, she delivered a sobering reality: Uganda had lost over a million hectares of tree cover since 2000, leading to colossal CO2 emissions. The recent deforestation alerts, almost 63,000 in a matter of days, were a deafening alarm bell.
The statistics aren't just numbers; they are a stark testament to the urgency of the situation. The statistics are a call to action, a call to rally behind the Alliance for Climate Resilience, and a call to confront the present reality of climate change with unyielding collaboration and resolve.