UNDP to fund audit of Uganda’s protected areas

Jul 24, 2017

President Yoweri K. Museveni (centre in white shirt) together with the Ms. Almaz Gebru, the UNDP Country Director (5th from the left), Hon. Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (4th from the left) and various dignitaries at the launch of the Uganda Giants Club Conservation of Protected Areas and Tourism Investment Forum at State House, Entebbe.

Entebbe – The United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) has committed USD 100,000 to a catalytic fund intended to attract private sector investment needed to complement traditional sources of conservation capital such as public funding and philanthropy, negatively impacted by the global economic downturn. 

Conservation finance provides an opportunity to address the significant unmet demand for funding of conservation. The support is part of UNDP’s commitment to support Uganda achieve the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals and the 2063 Agenda (the Africa We Want), according to Ms Almaz Gebru, the UNDP Country Director for Uganda.

Ms Gebru made the remarks while speaking at a meeting with H.E President Yoweri K. Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda. The meeting preceded the launch of the Uganda Giants Club Conservation of Protected Areas and Tourism Investment Forum by President Museveni.

“This initiative will attract the necessary gender responsive investments that can sustainably harness and conserve Uganda’s natural resources whilst creating the much-needed employment and income opportunities for Uganda’s citizens particularly youth and women,” said Ms Gebru said.

The Uganda Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum is intended to bring to market an exclusive initial offering of ‘investment ready’ sites in tier two Protected Areas, identified for tourism and other enterprises.

During the forum, a tailored framework for Public-Private Partnerships in Protected Area management will be launched. The framework will enable structuring of a series of new agreements for private sector co-management and unveil a series of incentives to support private sector investment in tourism.

“We recognize that there is a significant unmet demand for funding of conservation and that private sector finance and investment is needed, not to replace, but to compliment efforts of the Government of Uganda to conserve Uganda’s natural resources,” Ms Gebru said.

“This will drive responsible, high-earning tourism into the country and make it a destination for high-end paying clients,” she added.

UNDP has been contributing to Uganda’s efforts to attain sustainable and inclusive development since 1977. Recognizing that Uganda’s tourism is largely natural resource based, and that the country’s natural resources particularly forest cover and wetlands are declining at an alarming rate, UNDP supported the Government of Uganda to develop a Wetland Atlas and the national strategy for reducing deforestation and forest degradation.

The Wetland Atlas provides policy makers and implementers with the information needed to support actions for wetland restoration whilst the national strategy for reducing deforestation and forest degradation is intended to guide national efforts to halt the alarming rate at which Uganda’s forestry resources are dwindling.

As a result of this collaboration, the Green Climate Fund has awarded Uganda USD 24.1 million for the initiatives intended to restore wetlands and reduce green gas house emissions from forests destruction.

UNDP has also supported the Government of Uganda to revise and up-date the Tourism Policy 2015 as well as develop the Uganda Tourism Development Master Plan 2014 -2024 intended to provide a roadmap for harnessing Uganda’s tourism potential.

President Yoweri Museveni hailed UNDP as a partner who had brought expertise and is providing invaluable support in shaping the Giant’s Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum initiative.

“Tourism has distinguished itself as a productive sector with the ability to transform Uganda from a predominantly peasant society to middle income level,” Mr Museveni said.

“This announcement today is an important step in our commitment to unlocking the new and innovative investment models needed to effectively protect our most beautiful landscapes and wildlife for the benefit of the Ugandan people,” the President said.

“By inviting conservation-motivated investors to help build a ‘nature-based economy’, we will rehabilitate and manage Uganda’s network of Protected Areas while delivering economic growth.”

The tourism investment forum seeks to increase tourists’ arrivals from 1,323,000 in 2016 to 4,084,000 by 2020. It hopes to drive foreign exchange earnings from US$1.371 billion to US$2.7 billion in 2020 and to promote job creation and increase the contribution of tourism to GDP from Shs. 7.3 trillion to Shs.14.68 trillion at the end of the Financial Year 2020.

Giant Club Executive Director, Mr. Oliver Poole, thanked the Government of Uganda for its commitment to the tourism industry.  “It is important to invest in wildlife because it provides revenue, jobs and high end tourists to Uganda,” he said.

About Giants Club

The Giant’s Club is an initiative administered by the conservation charity, Space for Giants, and aims to safeguard Africa’s vulnerable elephant populations and the landscapes they need to thrive. Space for Giants confronts acute threats like the ivory trade and long-term challenge like balancing the needs of wildlife and growing human populations.

The founding members of the Giants Club are Presidents Museveni, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Ali Bongo of Gabon and the Tlhokomela Endangered Wildlife Trust of Botswana with President Ian Khama as its patron. Uganda will host the Uganda Giant’s Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum from 5-6 October, 2017.