Experts Set the Agenda for Make-or-Break Year Amid Increasing Climate Vagaries in East Africa

Nairobi – Welcome to the year 2020! This is a decisive year in our environmental history; climate scientists have been describing 2020 as a key turning point. 2019 concluded a decade of unprecedented global heat, melting ice and rising sea levels, driven by human activities. During this new decade world leaders and policymakers will either decide to save our planet from climate chaos or plunge into it.

To mark the start of the year of climate action and climate emergency, members of the inter-agency Migration and Climate Change working group, convened in Nairobi on the 31st of January for their first meeting of 2020. This meeting served to set the stage and set the agenda for 2020 as droughts, floods and storms are striking the East and Horn of Africa region with increasing frequency and intensity, and was attended by representatives from IOM, UNDP, UNEP and ICRISAT. One of the objectives of the inter-agency Group is to consolidate a coordinated approach in the Migration-Environment-Climate nexus through information sharing, joint advocacy and programming, particularly in Eastern and Western Africa.   

William Otieno, Team Lead from UNFCCC Regional Collaboration Centre (RCC), was the guest speaker, making him the 5th speaker to be hosted by the group, following previous speakers from IGAD, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Global Water Partnership and the Danish Refugee Council. Otieno opened with a brief presentation about the vision and mission of the 5 established RCCs (in Uganda, Togo, Thailand, Panama, St. Georges) and explained the purpose of the RCCs, which is to catalyze, support, coordinate and accelerate participation and action by parties and non-party stakeholders in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The Regional Collaboration Centres (RCCs) support national climate action through capacity-building, technical assistance and strategic networking, sourcing know-how and resources to drive clean development.

Among the other topics discussed by members was the upcoming UNFCCC Africa Climate Week (ACW), to be held in Kampala Uganda from 20 – 24th April 2020. ACW is part of Regional Climate Weeks that are held annually all over the world, bringing together diverse stakeholders in the public and private sectors around a common goal of addressing climate change. This year’s ACW is taking place under the theme “Partnering for transformation towards a low-carbon climate resilient and prosperous Africa: managing risks, seizing opportunities.” Africa Climate Week 2020 is inclusive and open to all stakeholders, as a ‘go-to’ hub to build partnerships and to showcase groundbreaking action in the region. The group also discussed the outcomes of the COP25, future of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the plans for COP26.

Geoffrey Omedo introduced UNDP’s Climate Promise, a flagship program to support at least 100 countries to enhance their NDCs by 2020. Through this project UNDP will ‘work with selected countries to make their NDCs more technically robust and include new ways governments can step up their climate actions, as well as finance their bold new goals’.

Maximilien Pardo from UNEP emphasized the importance of ecosystems and biodiversity in the global agenda, referring to the 2020 World Economic Forum held in Davos, where biodiversity loss was considered by world economic leaders as one of the top five threats to businesses and economic development. As such nature breakdown -coastal erosion, water scarcity, decrease in topsoil and natural productivity for example- exacerbated by climate change effects will strongly undermine economic development gains and hinder progress towards the 2030 Agenda. In the frame of the objective 2 of the Global Compact on Migration, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation clearly constitute “adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin”. This is particularly true in the African continent.   

As recalled by Maximilien, 2020 is considered as a super year in the Global agenda. This year is setting up important milestones that will potentially frame the way the inter-agency WG Group on Migration and Climate will operate in terms of information sharing, joint advocacy and programming. Indeed, 2020 marks the implementation of the Paris Agreement; 2020 will adopt the new 10-year ambitious framework for biodiversity -the New Deal for Nature; being the final 10-year countdown, 2020 will also be the year to set off the Decade for Action to implement the SDGs with relevant UN thematic decades for actions (The Decade for Ecosystems Restoration for instance) the Group will support.

Lisa Lim Ah Ken from IOM briefed the group about the progress of the UN Network on Migration and the importance of ensuring that the migration perspective remains salient in plans, strategies and policies on climate change.

For more information, please visit the Environmental Migration Portal or contact: Lisa Lim Ah Ken, IOM Regional Migration Environment and Climate Change Thematic Specialist, at: