Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change

Uganda is gifted with unique weather and climate that supports resilient ecosystems and biodiversity resulting in unrivaled advantage among countries world over in food production, tourism and the services sector. Forests, trees and other biomass grow in all parts of the country providing good soils and watersheds for agricultural production. Large tracts of inter-connected wetlands exist providing habitat for birds, insects and other benefits to tourists and incomes for local communities. Environmental management is critical to support sustainability of the benefits from nature to support the country’s economic growth

Environment and natural resources are under threat from both natural and man made drivers of change including; poverty, rapid population growth, unplanned urbanization, expansion of informal settlements, industrialization and the impacts of climate change and variability among others. Fragile ecosystems including hilly and mountainous areas, riverbanks, lake shores and range lands are facing encroachment and degradation. Pollution levels are also on the increase and the country is contending with new and emerging environmental issues arising from e-waste, unsound use of chemicals, oil and gas development and the impacts of climate change such as agricultural production, food security, incomes, health status and the livelihoods.

In addition, the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) sub-sector faces a number of challenges that include: limited prospects of long-term investments in both physical ecosystems protection and institutional capacity development; low level of awareness and appreciation of the critical linkages between environment and development; increasing demand for natural resources; limited strategic data and information for planning; and continue institutional policy reforms that have made long term planning challenging. Given the importance of environment and natural resources in contributing to wealth creation and employment, there is need to maintain and manage a sustainable environment and natural resource base that is resilient to natural and man made threats.

Climate Change - The achievement of long-term sustainable economic growth in the face of climate change is a primary concern in Uganda. The climate of Uganda is a valuable natural resource and a major determinant of other natural resources like soils, water, forests and wildlife, as well as the human activities dependent on them. However, increasing emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are changing the earth’s climate.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), found that the global climate has warmed since the 1950’s. The report also indicates, with 95 percent certainty, that increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, resulting from human activities, are responsible for the increased greenhouse gas concentrations (IPCC, 2014). The rising temperatures, as well as more erratic and extreme weather events are likely to take a disproportionate toll on Uganda.

The impacts of climate change (droughts, floods, storms, heat waves and landslides) will most likely reduce the benefits derived from the natural resource base and this will have serious consequences on agricultural production, food security, forests, water supply, infrastructure, health systems, incomes, livelihoods and overall development.

Uganda is committed to addressing the climate change challenge. Major steps have been taken to create an enabling policy environment and to implement measures to adapt and mitigate climate change. Uganda signed and ratified both the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol (KP) thus committing itself to the adoption and implementation of policies and measures designed to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts. Uganda is also a party to the implementation of the East African Community (EAC) Climate Change Policy, which requires member states to initiate and develop consistent and harmonized, policies and plans to address climate change.

In line with international and regional obligations, Uganda has developed a National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) which aims at guiding all climate change activities and interventions in the country. The NCCP is intended to provide direction to the key sectors that will be affected by the impacts of climate change; facilitate adaptation; and strengthening coordinated efforts among sectors towards building an overarching national development process that is more climate change resilient. In addition, guidelines for integrating climate change sectoral and local development plans and budgets have also been put in place. Uganda will continue to engage in discussions and actions with all stakeholders to promote climate change resilient and low carbon development

To achieve Uganda’s Vision 2040, there is need for clear long-term policies and strategies for adapting to the impacts of climate change while following a low carbon development path through adaptation and mitigation policies and practices. Uganda’s approach to climate change adaptation is to strengthen the country’s resilience. This involves increasing food security, reducing poverty, increasing levels of education, promoting skills development, and enhancing the integrity of ecosystems. From a mitigation perspective, Uganda will adopt mitigation policies and practices that have adaptation co-benefits, expand renewable energy Programmes, promote energy efficiency and those that promote green growth and a green economy. This can however be effectively attained through adequate international climate financing and technological assistance. It is important to recognize that mitigation has multiple benefits to be gained by Uganda in the medium and long-term. Pursuing a low carbon development path has many benefits particularly given the links between climate change action, job creation, poverty reduction and economic competitiveness.

Raising Africa aspires to make concrete contributions in the Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change sphere by way of the following;

Strategic Objective 1: Restore and maintain the integrity and functionality of degraded fragile ecosystems

Strategic Interventions

  • Restore degraded fragile ecosystems (river banks, bare hills, range lands and lake shores).
  • Promote ecosystem based adaptation to climate change in order to increase the resilience of ecosystems and communities to the impacts of climate change.

Strategic Objective 2: Increase the sustainable use of Environment and Natural Resources

Strategic Interventions

  • Promote value addition of Environment Natural Resource goods and services
  • Implement green economy initiatives including integration of environmental sustainability into planning and implementation of development processes.
  • Engage in research on economic, ecological and socio-cultural values of ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Strengthen management of environmental aspects of oil, gas and other finite resources such as water and land.
  • Increase public awareness of ENR opportunities, green economy and sustainable consumption and production practices.

Strategic Objective 3: Increase wetland coverage and reduce wetland degradation

Strategic Interventions

  • Expand knowledge base of ecological and socioeconomic value of wetlands among stakeholders.
  • Develop market for wetland products and services.
  • Build the institutional and technical capacity at the center and local governments in wetland management.

Strategic Objective 4: Increase afforestation, reforestation, adaption and mitigate deforestation for sustainable forestry

Strategic Interventions

  • Promote sustainable development of commercial forest plantations and industry including value addition.
  • Promote implementation of sustainable management of forests through restoration of natural forests on protected and private land.
  • Promote forest research and development
  • Initiate and Scale up agro-forestry based alternative livelihood systems.