Margaret Athieno Mwebesa, Uganda’s Commissioner for Climate Change and National Focal Point at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has come forward to defend the country’s substantial presence at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai. Amid reports that over 600 delegates from Uganda, including representatives from various government offices and agencies, are attending the summit, Mwebesa denied claims that the delegation is primarily seeking per diems or enjoying the conference.
Recent public discourse in Uganda criticized the government for the perceived high expenses related to travel, allowances, and accommodation for such a large delegation. Mwebesa countered by explaining that while 600 people may have been registered to travel, not all may have secured funding to attend the conference. She emphasized Uganda’s multi-level negotiation approach at COP, involving representation in thematic areas such as adaptation, loss and damage, mitigation, capacity building, technology development, transfer, and food systems.
Mwebesa urged support for the delegation, emphasizing their role in safeguarding Uganda’s sovereignty in global climate negotiations. She highlighted the importance of Ugandan participation in key discussions, such as those involving artificial intelligence, to protect the country’s interests. The absence of Uganda and other African nations in critical negotiations could have adverse implications.
The Commissioner acknowledged the sacrifice and dedication of those participating in COP28, emphasizing that they are not attending merely for enjoyment. Government officials, NGOs, and youth representatives are part of the diverse delegation addressing various aspects of climate change.
The report also mentions notable figures from Uganda attending COP28, including Energy Minister Ruth Nankabirwa, Director of Legal and Corporate Affairs at Petroleum Ali Ssekatawa, and Board Member at Uganda Investment Authority Izama Angelo. Uganda seeks to leverage the conference to attract investment, promote its products, and launch its Energy Transition Plan as part of efforts to move away from fossil fuels.