Friday, January 17, 2014

Uganda expedition being launched to profile the “Doomed Glaciers of Africa”

Press Release:
16 January, 2014 | Entebbe, Uganda: A two-week expedition of western Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains, conducted by Pax Arctica, Makerere University’s Mountain Resource Centre and Green Cross International, is being launched tomorrow to raise awareness on Africa’s vanishing glaciers and the global water crisis.

The expedition is being led by explorer Luc Hardy, founder of Pax Arctica, an organization that promotes awareness of the impact of climate change on arctic regions. Mr. Hardy is also Vice President of Green Cross France et Territoires, which is part of the Green Cross International (GCI) global network, founded in 1993 by Mikhail Gorbachev to respond to the inter-related challenges of environmental degradation, security and poverty.

Scientists have predicted the glaciers located in the Rwenzori Mountains, or Mountains of the Moon, may cease to exist in two decades, possibly as early as the mid-2020s[1]. Studies have shown that from 1906 to 2003, the area covered by glaciers has reduced from 7.5 km2 to less than 1 km2. Research efforts to discover the impact of the disappearance of these glaciers are now critical.

The findings of the Uganda expedition will provide valuable information about the effects of climate change on Africa’s fast disappearing glaciers, and the consequence it may have on water shortages and water ecosystems in this region. Other objectives are to investigate the composition of plant species in the region, and develop the Mountain Research Centre’s glacial monitoring capacities.

“What is happening in the Rwenzori Mountains sheds light on the challenges we are facing globally from climate change and the world water crisis,” said Mr. Hardy. “Human-kind’s inability to contain climate change, and its negative consequences, can be visibly seen in this part of Uganda. The shrinking of this unique African glacier, along with the obvious loss on sustainable water supplies, pose major threats to local communities.”

Joining the expedition will be Sheila Ruyondo, a Ugandan environmental advocate and Uganda’s youth representative to the World Youth Parliament for Water (WYPW), which is a partner of the expedition. WYPW is a network of young advocates committed to responding to the global water crisis and its links to climate change. Raising awareness and mobilizing youth for this cause are two of its key missions, and are embodied in this expedition.

Ms. Ruyondo was raised at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains, and is dedicated to promoting the right to access clean, safe water as well as initiating conservation efforts in this region of Uganda. Mountain guide David Rastouil and Ugandan university student Richard Atugonza will also participate in the expedition.

In an article by Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Tom Knudson wrote that people familiar with the Rwenzori Mountains have noticed a disturbing shift in decreasing precipitation patterns in recent years. The lack of rainfall has caused many trees to die, diminishing the regions’ ability to soak up and store water, leaving downstream villages at risk for water shortages.

For updates in the coming days about the Doomed Glaciers of Africa expedition, please refer to Green Cross International’s blog and Pax Arctica for reports, photos and videos.

Contacts for interviews:
Editors note: A post-expedition seminar to present observations is planned in Uganda. Contact Bob Nakileza for more information.

About PaxArctica
The Pax Arctica Initiative was created to promote awareness of the threats facing the Arctic regions, to convey a global message of peace and to support the introduction of new ecological regulations for the Arctic region. Luc Hardy is the leader of the Initiative, he is and adventurer, author, and member of the Explorers Club. He is president of Sagax, a US-based investment and management advisory firm.
More information:

About Makerere University’s Mountain Resource Centre
The Makerere University Mountain Research Centre collects information on mountain issues and brings together researchers that do work in mountain areas especially in Uganda but on global issues. It is the focal point for mountain research involved in organising workshops, conferences, trainings on mountain issues and documenting mountain research.
More information:

About Green Cross International
GCI was founded in 1993 by Nobel Peace Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev and is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization advocating and working globally to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through advocacy and local projects. The GCI Water for Life and Peace programme advocates for universal access to safe drinking water and the equitable and sustainable use of shared water resources.
GCI is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, has offices in some 30 countries and local projects around the world. More information:

About the World Youth Parliament for Water
The World Youth Parliament for Water is a network of young people acting for water. It is active in 71 countries, with a mission to advocate for youth participation in the water sector, and to implement concrete actions for water. It acts at all levels: from local communities, where it implements concrete actions and lays the foundations for universal access to water and sanitation, to the United Nations General Assembly, where it advocates for youth participation in the water sector.
More information:

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