As member states plan political federation, slated for 2015, there seems to be one issue that has not yet been brought to the fore; climate change. It hasn’t received the attention it deserves at the regional level.
The individual country delegations need to sit down together as parties from a single regional group and hammer out a common agenda. As East Africans, we have issues which are unique to us.
The region has huge resources which can be exploited but are lying unexploited.
For instance, Rwanda has methane gas deposits at Lake Kivu, which is presenting the region with both a challenge and an opportunity.
The challenge is that the deposits are potentially deadly- with prospects for an environmental disaster. The opportunities are, in as afar as the commercial exploitation of such a huge energy resource is concerned.
It would improve on the acute energy shortages accross the region.
Methane gas is listed as one of the gases that could contribute to climate change.
A credible response would be that while regional governments forge a common agenda on formulating solutions to the environmental challenges, the region’s private sector ought to take the lead in formulating a private sector driven approach to the challenges and opportunities therein.
Within the regional response, consideration should be given to the best approach to be used to tap into the ‘Climate Change Adaptation Fund’.
After all, Africa is likely to bear the brunt of the effects of climate change. Thus to me, Lake Kivu challenge offers a very interesting case study for the Copenhagen meet.
To me, various environmental agencies of the EAC member countries set to attend the Copenhagen meeting ought to craft a position on how Rwanda, as an EAC member, can be assisted in tackling this challenge.
Other measures which need to be addressed from a regional perspective are within the area of capacity building. Climate change is a very complex issue requiring experts within different disciplines, which the region currently lacks.
Experts must be provided regionally to help member countries develop projects which can be used to earn carbon credits.
We need to sit together on a roundtable and reflect on how other regions are going about this business. Drought and changing patterns of rainfall as a consequence should be looked at from a regional perspective.
The changing rainfall patterns should, for instance, inform regional policy makers on the best approaches to take during global deliberations such as the Copenhagen meet.
In this case regional policy makers ought to have a round table to iron out such issues and come up with a common position as they head to copenhagen.