#WED2015: Message of the United Nations in Uganda on World Environment Day

Jun 5, 2015

Fishermen hauling in their catch of the day at a landing site in south western Uganda, beneficiaries of UNDP’s COBWEB project that aims to conserve wetlands and other protected areas to prevent loss of biodiversity (Photo: UNDP/Mathias Mugisha)

KAMPALA - Every year, the 5th of June provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the environment and to inspire us to action to ensure the future of our planet is safe.

The global theme of this year’s World Environment Day is ‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet’, while the national theme is, “35 Million People. Limited Resources. Consume with Care.” These two themes serve as a wake-up call for us to take better stewardship of our natural resources to insure our survival and that of future generations. The well-being of humanity, the environment, and the functioning of the world’s economy ultimately depend upon the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources.

There is mounting evidence that we are increasingly consuming far more resources than what the planet can produce sustainably. This is putting humanity at risk of hunger (food insecurity), drought, disease and death.

Currently, the majority of the population in Uganda depends on subsistence and rain-fed agriculture. 90 percent of them also rely on wood fuel as a source of energy. At an average annual growth rate of 3.03 per cent, Uganda's population is projected to increase to 35.0 million in 2015 and to 47.4 million in 2025. This projected population growth is bound to exert more pressure on the existing natural resources which calls for adoption of sustainable production and consumption patterns.

A number of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) have been signed by Government of Uganda to strengthen environmental protection. These include, among others, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention to Combat Desertification and the Convention on Biological Diversity. These present enormous opportunities for a greener economy which can deliver numerous benefits in addressing food, energy and water security in order to achieve sustainable development.

Government has also put in place a number of policy, legal and institutional frameworks, to address environmental degradation and climate change. However, there is need for renewed commitment to effectively implement and translate these policies in to real action on ground. We need to protect the natural resources we enjoy – our wetlands, lakes, rivers, and forests; wildlife habitats and abundant farmland.

We need also to promote home-grown solutions – more so, solutions that put people at the centre of environment and natural resource protection. By harnessing our homegrown solutions, and preserving the natural resources that make Uganda the Pearl of Africa, we can show that sound environmental policies can go hand-in hand with economic development.

As the UN, our interventions over the past year have amplified efforts by government and other partners to support the country to climate proof its development, notably: Revision of the National Environment Management Policy to integrate climate change, disaster risk reduction, electronic waste management and oil and gas. A Biomass Energy Strategy, E- Waste Management Strategy have been developed, while a 24- hour National Emergency and Coordination Centre (NECOC), is place, under the leadership of the Office of the Prime Minister. Issues papers on ENR and Climate Change were prepared for the NDP II with our support, and a payment for ecosystem services fund established as part of promoting an Ecosystem Based Adaptation approach to climate change.

As we prepare for the post-2015 agenda, it is our hope that these efforts will propel us forward in attaining sustainable development and Vision2040.

We are grateful for the excellent partnership with Government of Uganda, and especially, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) which is leading the National celebrations taking place in Rakai district. We are also appreciative of the collaboration of other development partners, the civil society, private sector, academia and most importantly, the people of Uganda – who are at the centre of our environmental efforts.

The UN system in Uganda remains committed to ensuring that development is risk-informed, and to seeing that environmental protection continues to be prioritised in national development.

Message attributable to Mrs Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, United Nationa Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Uganda

For more information, please contact:

Onesimus Muhwezi, Team Leader, Energy and Environment, UNDP Uganda. Tel: +256 417 112100 Ext. 139. Email: onesimus.muhwezi@undp.org

Sheila C. Kulubya, Communications Analyst, UNDP Uganda. Tel: +256 417 112100 Ext. 129. Email: sheila.kulubya@undp.org

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