Uganda told to raise Shs400b for conservation

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The United Nations development agency has challenged Uganda to mobilise an extra Shs418b to help finance the management and conservation of its animal and plant species whose habitats are threatened by agriculture and infrastructure developments.

Ms Almaz Gebru, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country director, said Uganda spends nearly Shs91b annually on conservation of the country’s biodiversity, but this translates into only 17.5 per cent of the financial requirements.

“Uganda must mobilise, on average, an extra Shs418b every year for biodiversity conservation,” Ms Gebru said in a speech read for her by the UNDP deputy country director, Mr Thomas Ole-Kuyan.

Mr Ole-Kuyan made the remarks while opening the third Africa Regional Biodiversity Financing (BIOFIN) conference in Entebbe on Tuesday.

The state of country’s biodiversity conservation financing deficits are contained in a study by the National Environment Management Authority.
UNDP supported the study titled: ‘Biodiversity expenditure review and finance needs and gaps analysis 2017.’

The UNDP official said it would be selfish of the current generation to pass onto future generations a planet that is damaged or devoid of the current variety of flora and fauna in the country’s ecosystems.

Ms Gebru said ongoing initiatives, including the UN Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems project, should create synergies with Biofin initiative since they all target conservation.

He said no nation should disregard the economic, scientific, ecological and cultural values of animal and plant species.

UNDP launched the BIOFIN as a new global partnership to address the gap in financing for biodiversity conservation estimated at between $130 and $440 billion annually, according to the Convention on Biological Diversity Strategic Plan for 2011-2020.

Dr Tom Okurut, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) executive director, told the meeting that 80 per cent of the population in Uganda directly depends on biodiversity for survival and their lives will be at risk should conservation not be reinforced by closing the financing gap.

“Biodiversity Financing brings hope and stability,” Dr Okurut said, adding that Nema is developing a business case for conservation so that the private sector, which heavily relies on it for raw materials, can be encouraged to actively finance conservation.

Mr Francis Sabino Ogwal, the Nema natural resource management officer, said because of the little investment in conservation, there are high levels of deforestation, and wetland degradation.

He said ordinary people may not see that the authority is doing something to avert these vulnerabilities and threats to the environment.

“We should not wait for a crisis to act. We are giving our findings to the government such that it can progressively increase biodiversity financing,” he said in reference to the report in finance gaps launched by Environment state minister Dr Mary Kitutu last week.

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