Fast track financing solutions for biodiversity conservation - UNDP Uganda Country Director says

Jun 16, 2017

NEMA Executive Director, Dr Tom Okurut talks to the UNDP deputy Country Director, Thomas Ole-Kuyan (R) as Mr Onesimus Muhwezi, UNDP-Uganda’s Team Leader - Environment, Climate & Disaster Resilience (C) looks on at the event. On the right (below):Ms Adriana Dinu, Executive Coordinator, UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) and above, on a boat ride to view various bird species at the Mabamba Swamps of Lake Victoria, Uganda's biggest fresh water lake. (Photo credit: UNDP Uganda 2017)

Entebbe - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director, Ms. Almaz Gebru has tasked nations to fast track finding solutions to biodiversity financing as one of the pathways to sustainable development.

Ms. Gebru said that the cost of depleted plant and animal species will be so high and the alternative for nations is of insurance provided by conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity.

“We cannot be selfish to hand over to the future generation a planet that is so damaged or devoid of the variety of flora and fauna in the various ecosystems,” Gebru said. “Neither can we afford to be oblivious of economic, ecological and cultural values of biodiversity, to let it get extinct,” she added, in a speech read for her by UNDP deputy Country Director, Mr Thomas Ole-Kuyan.

This was during the 3rd Africa Region workshop on Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) held in Entebbe, Uganda between 13th – 15th June, 2017.  

Representatives of governments, the United Nations, and technical experts from seven countries across Africa gathered to share knowledge and discuss new financial solutions to protect and better manage biodiversity.

The Government of Uganda through the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) with support of the UNDP is implementing BIOFIN in Uganda. BIOFIN is a global partnership seeking to address the biodiversity finance challenge in a comprehensive and systematic manner.

The initiative aims to enable governments to construct a sound business case for increasing investment in the sustainable and equitable management, protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems.

Uganda has completed its review and update of the second National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBSAP2) and its strategic objectives have been linked to the BIOFIN methodology to enable the review process to cost and improve the implementation of the NBSAP.

The UNDP Country Director pointed out that the greater the biodiversity, the greater the resilience of the ecological system. “This means, with greater biodiversity, society has better insurance against future adverse occurrences. This should give us the impetus to helps nations mobilise resources for biodiversity conservation,” Ms Gebru said.

Globally, nearly half of the human population is directly dependent on natural resources for livelihood while in Uganda, according to the NEMA Executive Director, Dr Tom Okurut, 80% of the population depends on biodiversity for their daily subsistence needs.

Ms Adriana Dinu, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Environment Facility Executive Coordinator, said the economic value of assets that nature offers to nations should be included in the calculation of the countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to shine a light on their worth.

“Look at Lake Victoria which is the largest lake in Africa. Studies show Lake Victoria is providing some of the most productive fresh water fisheries worldwide, with 500,000 tonnes of fish and $400m dollars in revenue,” Ms Dinu said.

“This is the wealth. How come this wealth that is considered free is not factored in the calculation of GDP? The consequences are biodiversity loss we are facing today; water insecurity, the food insecurity… We cannot continue not counting what counts” she added.

The GEF coordinator pointed out that by 2030 1.2billion more people will be added to planet and most of them will live in the cities, increasing demand for food, water and energy and hence tripling carbon print. She said that this is the reason UNDP, GEF and other donors have established a portfolio of over $4billion to address the key drivers of environmental degradation.

Ms Dinu says as nations face challenges in the drive to achieve the 2030 agenda, technological, market and policy innovations offer renewed stimulus. On the other hand, she said, the UN framework, the Paris Agreement and SDGs offer hope for biodiversity conservation and inclusive, sustainable green growth.

“Investing in ecosystems and biodiversity has become one of the smartest ways of achieving sustainable development agenda,” she said.

“Even though we have transgressed the fragile boundaries, there is still hope if we act creatively, quickly and with resolve. You represent what the world wants now, biodiversity financing solutions to help us achieve SDGs,” Ms Dinu told the participants.

About Biodiversity

Biodiversity (nature) provides enormous value to our societies and economies – clean water, climate regulation, flood prevention, recreation, food, fuel, and fibre, among others. Yet nature’s services are at severe risk.

BIOFIN provides the technical tools and brings countries together to develop and implement evidence based finance plans and solutions to safeguard and better manage biodiversity.

In Uganda, biodiversity is vital to the economy and population. More than half of Africa's 2000 bird species can be found here and its rich ecosystems house many iconic mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
This diversity offers economic value and tourism is an important and growing sector. National Geographic has consistently named Uganda, known as the 'Pearl of Africa' as one of the world's top destinations. Rough Guides named it 2017's fourth best destination in the world.

But these accolades, and a sustainable tourism trade are dependent on the countries healthy biodiversity and Uganda's biodiversity is under threat. There’s a growing human population and the consequent demand for land and competing land-use options, such as agriculture, mining, and timber harvesting.