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Ugandan government to face court in the country’s first climate change case

The Ugandan High Court is now expected to begin hearing the country’s first climate change case later this year, after another adjournment.

The first hearing of the case was due to start today but was postponed to 14 November 2018, due to the unavailability of the judge. This follows the case being adjourned in March earlier this year, due to the unavailability of Judge Henrietta Wolayo.

Four Ugandan young people and local NGO Greenwatch are suing the government for failing to protect them from climate change dangers like drought and food shortages, and for violating their constitutional right to a healthy environment.

Greenwatch lawyer Samantha Atukunda said: “We hope this case will create legal precedent on climate change and awareness of people’s constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment. We believe this includes adaptation and mitigation measures to fight the adverse impacts of climate change, especially for future generations.”

ClientEarth climate lawyer Sophie Marjanac said: “A win in this case would set a legal precedent for Uganda, Africa, and all other countries with constitutional environmental rights. The Ugandan government has not done enough to protect people from climate change, which is already affecting lives and livelihoods. By failing to plan, it has forced these youths to go to court to get justice and to safeguard their futures.”

Since the case was launched, the Ugandan government has issued new climate change policy and draft law, but it falls short on adaptation measures to mitigate impacts like water and food shortages, falling incomes, ill health and mass migration. We expect a second hearing in 2018, after which the court will issue its judgment.

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