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Entebbe (Uganda), 25 July 2016. From the 25th to the 26th July 2016, the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC), launched a two day-workshop for its climate change validation and the development of implementation plan within the Greater Virunga Landscape (GVL) which covers the Central Albertine Rift (CAR).

GVTC is an intergovernmental organization to coordinate conservation efforts to promote conservation of the protected areas shared by the three states member, namely the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda. The three states signed a treaty in 2015 to consolidate their collaboration in natural resources management and promote development through tourism in the GVL.

Participants who attended the workshop are from the above mentioned states conservation institutions, i.e. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB), and Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (DRC). Other GVTC stakeholders and partners attended the climate change workshop: INES-Ruhengeri (Rwanda), Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC-Uganda), Université de Kisangani (DRC), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), Monusco-RDC. An Environmental Expert from the Netherlands Embassy in Kampala, Dr Kadi Warner, joined the workshop to help participants have a good understanding facts and myths about climate change and its impact on wildlife conservation on the GVL. Facilitators and organizers were GVTC staff management, with the financial support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands through its Embassy in Kigali (Rwanda).

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Climate change means “a change of climate, which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”. Climate change represents building disequilibrium over time between climate, ecosystems and human livelihoods, forcing changes that affect and often threaten biodiversity.

The climate change impacts are observed within GVL and around the world through the increase in surface temperature, sea-level rise, changes in precipitation and decreased in snow cover, and the chain effect of these impacts will bring in issues such as human health, shortage of water supply, biodiversity loss and ecosystem alteration.

GVTC and its partners are particularly concerned by climate change since it’s negative impact is to create additional stress on habitat and ecosystems and may result in a reduction of habitat leading to death or migration of animals. Furthermore, pressures on ecosystems include high rates of change in land use, pollution, population growth, civil wars, etc, and the extinction of plant and animal species would affect rural livelihoods, tourism and genetic resources.

One of the GVTC objectives as outlined through its Transboundary Strategic Plan is to support the climate resilient planning and implementation by addressing climate risks and uncertainty in the GVL programs. It is in that regard that conservation and development planners should identify potential climate change impacts in landscapes and sites of concern that are the direct consequence of climate change as well as the indirect impacts that will be largely mediated through human response.

GVTC and its partners are highly concerned by the climate change challenges and are stimulated the national, regional and international commitments to mitigate those negative impacts. As stated Dr Georges Muamba Tshibasu, the GVTC Executive Secretary,“ In December 2015 and April 2016, two international events have captured the attention of the humanity: The Paris International Agreement on the climate with the goal of keeping global warming below 2°C, an agreement signed within the sidelines the COP 21 organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the signing of an Agreement in New York by more than 178 countries with a firm will to ratify this agreement at the UN Climate Conference”.

The GVTC Executive Secretary mentioned that “the threat on natural resources due to climate change is an evidence that requires the attention of our three states and calls for a coherent, energetic, rational and coordinated response that takes into account the specificity of our landscape in terms of the impressive rich biodiversity and the importance of ecosystems services offered to our populations”. He concluded by pointing out some facts that may negatively affect the conservation of the natural resources within the GVL. In fact, “poaching, deforestation, agricultural activities, exploration and exploitation of oil and gas, and in addition to that, the loss of natural biodiversity which pose a great mortgage on the GVL future, the rapid population growth and poverty of surrounding communities to protected areas, those factors constitute a very worrying situation”.

Mr. Nelson Guma, Conservation Area Manager of Kibale, from UWA (Uganda) officially welcomed participants and opened the GVTC climate change workshop. He stated that UWA and his country are taking climate change issues very seriously because “we are witnessing its negative impacts on our protected areas”. Mr. Nelson Guma ended his remark by welcoming participants again, saying that “climate change is a real fact, it is true, and it is happing” and he showed his availability to be part of this open strategy aims at developing an implementation plan to address the issue of climate change.

GVTC Communication Service