UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative remarks: The UN Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) National Programme Launch and Inception in UgandaOct 30, 2015
The Hon. Minister of Water and Environment, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu,
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water and Environment, Mr. David O. O. Obong,
Government Officials in your respective capacities,
Fellow Development Partners and UN Colleagues,
Members of the Private Sector,
Members of the Civil Society,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here with you today as we launch of the UN-REDD Programme in Uganda.
I’m particularly delighted to address you on behalf of our UN sister agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which are key partners in this programme.
Forests are an important part of Uganda’s beautiful landscape. Therefore, Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation, as the programme is aptly named is very key for us.
This is because our forests are a great source of livelihood for a large part of our population, providing food and wood for home consumption. In addition, they provide some of our major tourist attractions, with visitors coming to see various tree types and bird species that are not available elsewhere in the world.
Despite all this, deforestation remains one of the major environmental issues in Uganda. With a fast growing population which needs extra land to survive, reports indicate that the land area covered by forest had reduced by 14% since 1990 and by 4% in 2014/15.
Although these statistics may not paint a vivid picture for us, current changes in the country’s climate patterns, drop in the amount of rainfall, the constant change in the seasons and the low productivity in our agricultural sector, are a good example of what we will suffer if we do not do something now.
At a global level, this trend has a big implication on our capacity to contribute towards global efforts in reducing emissions. Deforestation already accounts for roughly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions with the bulk of carbon dioxide emissions coming from deforestation in just seven tropical countries, including Brazil and Indonesia.
It is estimated that deforestation and forest degradation account for approximately 17 per cent of carbon emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector.
This makes the call for us to become advocates for reducing deforestation and forest degradation urgent.
The REDD programme is therefore timely in helping us respond to this call. As you are all aware, REDD became a key element for negotiating a new climate regime during the 2007 COP in Bali.
The REDD+ financing mechanism was then developed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to provide incentives to developing countries in whose territories a considerable amount of forests are found and also reward their efforts towards reducing emissions through sustainably managing their forests and enhancing their forest cover.
Developing countries such as Uganda can therefore play a major role in reducing carbon emissions through forestry and improved land use activities thereby stemming severe climate change globally.
On this note, I would like to applaud government for the various initiatives it has started to reverse the trend of deforestation.
Government led programmes such as ‘Greening the economy’ through massive tree planting; Forest Carbon Partnership Fund (FCPF) and the Forest Investment Programme (FIP) under the World Bank and other activities carried out with support of the Austrian Development Corporation will go a long way in helping Uganda not only protect but also enhance its forest cover.
The UN REDD programme is another initiative that will contribute to these efforts and it’s for this reason that the UN family in Uganda together with the World Bank and the Austrian Development Agency are pleased to be part of its implementation.
Implementation of the programme is expected to contribute to localisation of the new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly;
Goal 13 - on taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts and;
Goal 15 - on sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation and halting biodiversity loss.
Over the next 5 years, the UN System in Uganda has prioritised natural resources management and climate change resilience as part of its support to a sustainable and inclusive economic development as espoused in the Second National Development Plan. The UN-REDD Programme will support these efforts by providing opportunities to ensure the sustainability and resilience of green development.
As world leaders prepare to meet for the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris this December to negotiate a binding agreement for addressing climate change, the UN system remains available to support national preparatory processes and participation this global dialogue.
It’s on this note that I would like to congratulate you Hon. Minister and your Ministry for completing and submitting Uganda’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UNFCCC Secretariat, these will be important for the country’s negotiations during the conference.
As I conclude, I would like to reiterate that the knowledge and experience built through UN-REDD programme will enhance Uganda’s capacity to contribute to these global platforms and processes even more effectively.
I thank you all for listening and wish you fruitful deliberations.