From 23 to 24 September, leaders from diverse backgrounds coming from all parts of the East African Community (EAC) gathered in Kampala to take forward several recommendations made by the PACT EAC Project – a CUTS International Geneva-led regional initiative that aims to build capacities in the region for more coordinated policies at the interplay of trade, climate change and food security, and strengthen Geneva-grassroots linkages
From 23 to 24 September, leaders from diverse backgrounds coming from all parts of the East African Community (EAC) gathered in Kampala to take forward several recommendations made by the PACT EAC Project – a CUTS International Geneva-led regional initiative that aims to build capacities in the region for more coordinated policies at the interplay of trade, climate change and food security, and strengthen Geneva-grassroots linkages.
Under the theme “Climate, Food, Trade: Bringing Coherence into East African Policy Responses”, this second regional event sought to build on the knowledge the project has created through research over the past two years. It proposed elements for better policy coherence in the EAC at the national, regional and international levels.
« We may all agree that by public institutional and structural designs, all the three issues commonly fall within mandates of separate ministries, departments and agencies. Unfortunately, even when it comes to the development of sectoral, national, sub-national, regional or international policies and strategies, there remains a remarkable disconnect between the three issues. » said Flavia Nabugere Munaaba, the Ugandan Minister of State for Environment.
Jesca Eriyo, Deputy Secretary General Productive & Social Sectors EAC Secretariat, while supporting these views, informed the meeting that initiatives such as PACT EAC have contributed to addressing the problem of policy disconnect. She asserted that to deal with the challenges of climate change on food security, we must strengthen our early warning systems, promote agricultural insurance mechanisms, and coordinate a coherent approach in multilateral processes. She informed about many initiatives of the EAC Secretariat in this regard and reiterated her support for PACT EAC.
Over the past six months, following the release of five national studies in March titled “Climate, Food, Trade: Where is the Policy Nexus?”, the project partners in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda have engaged their stakeholders into advocacy campaigns to take the most urgent recommendations from the studies to the policy arena. While in Burundi and Kenya, ADIR and CUTS ARC Nairobi will campaign for enhanced weather information and early warning systems, SEATINI in Uganda will urge EAC trade negotiators to refocus trade and investment decisions to promote environmental conservation.
In Tanzania, ESRF will advocate for the Ministry of Natural Resources to launch a sensitization campaign to charcoal and firewood users and producers in the region of Dar-es-Salaam on transitioning to alternative sources of energy (e.g. gas, kerosene) so as to slow down the pace of deforestation. “More than one million tons of charcoal is consumed annually in Tanzania, as it is used by almost everybody, especially in the urban areas. Yet, no policy or strategy is in place to oversee this industry that is currently contributing to deforestation and is therefore likely to worsen climate variability in our country.” Said Oswald Mashindano, senior lecturer at the University of Dar-es-Salaam.
To contribute to a coherent approach in multilateral processes, East African negotiators of both international trade and climate agreements gave an update about two major upcoming multilateral events that have implications for the EAC region: the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in December in Bali, Indonesia, and the UNFCCC COP 19 to be held in Warsaw, Poland, this November.
Another highlight of the event was the presentation of the findings of a new regional research study on “Trade Reforms and their Impact on Food Security in the East African Community: The Political Dimension”, which analysed the nature and role of trade and trade-related politics on food security. It was notably found that, despite commitments to implement trade policy measures to ensure regional food security, government interventions often disrupt competitive market conditions and encourage rent-seeking and corrupt practices. “National governments should set clear rules for public sector actions in the staples market to minimize the uncertainties that discretionary interventions might cause” advised Paul Owino, one of the authors of the study.
The event was organised under the Promoting Agriculture, Climate and Trade linkages in the East African Community” (PACT EAC) project, a regional initiative led by the NGO, CUTS International in collaboration with other partners. From 2011 to 2014, the project aims to build capacities in the region for more coordinated policies at the interplay of trade, climate change and food security.