The Honourable David Ebong, Chairman of the Government of Uganda’s Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change, was the first keynote speaker at the Congress to specifically bring human rights into the climate change dialogue. The impact on the “ordinary” African citizen, including famine, disease, diminished water supply and economic instability, exemplify basic human rights that are jeopardized by climate change.
Placing the climate change debate within a human rights framework obliges governments to act efficiently and immediately to mitigate the effects on their citizens - “not as a favour…it is a right” (Hon. Ebong). It also encourages civil society and development actors working within the human rights agenda to keep the cost of climate change to local citizens at the forefront of climate change policy-making efforts.
The Honourable emphasized the need for public-private partnerships to emerge that are rooted in the human rights agenda. Since the mid-1990s, the United Nations and its development branches, particularly the United Nations Development Programme, have been mainstreaming human rights into development initiatives. If the private sector is to be part of the climate change mitigation efforts, it too should be mindful of the human rights implications of its solutions.
A unique characteristic of PPPs is their ability to deliver a system of checks and balances - the private sector can continue to encourage economic development, while the public sector can encourage activities that remain committed to ensuring that human development remains a central component to activities.
The fact that a Parliamentarian demonstrated commitment to maintaining human rights throughout the Government of Uganda’s climate change mitigation and adaptation process demonstrates that African states are mindful of the implications of climate change on their citizenry.