CSOs call for greater enforcement of environment laws to ensure success of UN-REDD+ programme

Sep 19, 2014

Tourists viewing birds in Kibale National Forest, one of the premier birding hotspots in Western Uganda. In addition to being watersheds with environmental and climate control benefits, Forests are also a habitat for birds. By making forests more valuable standing than felled, REDD+ provides forest communities and developing countries with a new, sustainable, low-carbon pathway to economic growth (Photo credit: UNDP/Mathias Mugisha).

The process to establish a UN REDD+ programme in Uganda is underway, with calls from the civil society for government to step up enforcement of environment laws and regulations to address the underlying drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in order to develop a more sustainable forest sector.

This recommendation was one of several that were made during a three-day review of the project document for the UN-REDD+ programme support for Uganda.

The aim of the workshop was to provide an update and progress of the National REDD+ Programme implementation, present a draft UN-REDD National Programme Document; and to seek input from Non-Government Actors including the civil society.

Uganda is preparing to implement REDD+, and is currently in the readiness phase, a crucial stage that involves developing the necessary policy and institutional framework before REDD+ can be implemented.  Allowing for input from multiple stakeholders in to the country’s Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) is a key principal of achieving REDD+ readiness to ensure it is inclusive and participatory so as to lead to effective, efficient and equitable outcomes.

In 2011, government under the Ministry of Water and Environment set up the Environment Protection Police Unit to enforce environmental laws and prevent the degradation of protected areas. The cops were also tasked to sensitize members of the public on the environmental laws such as the National Environment Forestry and Tree Planting Act 2003. However, a combination of lack of capacity, poor facilitation, and increased encroachment by communities for economic livelihood, have made it difficult for this specialized police unit to enforce compliance.

REDD+ — reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries — is a climate change mitigation mechanism launched in 2008 to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by funding conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests, including paying developing countries to stop cutting down their forests. It builds on the convening role and technical expertise of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Tropical deforestation currently accounts for 12-17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, a share larger than all the world's cars, trucks, ships, planes, and trains combined. The National Forestry Authority estimates that 80,000 hectares of private and protected forests are being cleared annually in Uganda for the unsustainable production of charcoal and timber.

Ms Ahunna Onochie-Eziakonwa, the UN Resident Coordinator, and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, described REDD+ as timely as it will build on the on-going implementation of the National Climate Change Policy, and also feed in to the on-going preparation processes for the second National Development Plan, and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).

“The impacts of deforestation and forest degradation are significant contributors to climate change. As REDD+ development takes shape in Uganda and internationally, it is essential to ensure that it is effectively implemented, putting into consideration the potential challenges and risks,” Miss Onochie-Eziakonwa said, in a speech that was delivered on her behalf by Mr Daniel Omodo McMondo, Programme Analyst, Energy and Environment at UNDP.

" I therefore would like to reiterate the support of the United Nations Country Team to ensure successful implementation of the UN REDD Programme in Uganda and to appeal to all of you to actively engage and ensure successful preparation and implementation of the UN REDD+ National Programme as well as other related interventions in Uganda” she added.

The Assistant Commissioner, Margaret Mwebesa of the REDD+ National Focal Point in the Ministry of Water and Environment said the draft national programme document for UN-REDD still needs to undergo additional review and committed to consult more stakeholders to refine it further.

“We are going to have other consultative meeting with other stakeholders between this and next month before this document is endorsed, validated and sent the UN-Redd Secretariat for international peer review,” she explained.

Mr. Nicholas Soikan, a Social Development Specialist in the Anglophone region for the World Bank, said the consultative meeting was important because stakeholder engagement is very critical for the World Bank and REDD+ partnership.

“Without involvement of CSOs, without involvement of indigenous people and local communities REDD+ might not meet its objectives and that is basically why we are here; to communicate well. We are here to get their position, on how to address Redd+ issues in general and how they can participate more effectively in this process that is now in a high gear,” Mr. Soikan explained.

He said the World Bank is supporting several climate change initiatives in Uganda, and revealed US$3.6m has so far been provided by its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility to government to get the country ready for REDD+,  and formulate a strategy that will outline some of the strategic options for addressing drivers of deforestation.

Participants commended government for coordinating the REDD+ preparation process and ensuring it is multi-stakeholder driven, participatory, gender sensitive, transparent and accountable.

The UN-REDD+ Programme supports nationally-led REDD+ processes and promotes the informed and meaningful involvement of all stakeholders, including Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities, in national and international REDD+ implementation. The Programme supports national REDD+ readiness efforts in 55 partner countries, spanning Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, in two ways; direct support to the design and implementation of UN-REDD National Programmes and complementary support to national REDD+ action through common approaches, analyses, methodologies, tools, data and best practices developed through the UN-REDD Global Programme. By June 2014, funding to support countries totalled US$195.7 million.

For more Information contact:

Daniel Omodo McMondo, Programme Analyst, Energy and Environment Unit, UNDP Uganda. Tel: +256 414 112100 Ext. 140. Email:daniel.omodo@undp.org

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