Uganda is set to get a big boost for the tourism sector following a lobbying by a strong delegation from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). The Investigator has established.
Currently Team Uganda is attending the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP) on Biological Diversity taking place in Cancun, Mexico. The meeting that started on 4 December ends tomorrow Friday December 17.
Team Uganda to Cancun is led by the Minister of Water and Environment as the Head of Delegation and also comprises of ministers, Members of Parliament and technical officers from various ministries, conservation agencies and organizations.
The UWA Executive Director Dr. Andrew Seguya said Team Uganda is only one of the 196 countries involved in this key decision-making conference with four high value meetings happening concurrently for the different layers of technical staff with a high level Ministerial Segment.
Speaking to The Investigator from Cancun, Seguya said Uganda’s representation in such global foras creates a great awareness of the nation’s potential in tourism.
The Conference of the Parties is the governing body of the Convention, and advances implementation of the Convention through the decisions it takes at its periodic meetings. To date the Conference of the Parties has held 12 ordinary meetings, and one extraordinary meeting.
From 1994 to 1996, the Conference of the Parties held its ordinary meetings annually. Since then these meetings have been held somewhat less frequently and, following a change in the rules of procedure in 2000, will now be held every two years.
“The meeting ends here tomorrow but we have other assignments in the US to attract tourist and help bolster the tourism industry,” said Seguya. He said he has special assignments from government that will see him traverse the US until early next year.
Gesa Simplicous the UWA publicists said aafter the successful Johannesburg CITES COP17 conference on international wildlife trade policy that underscored the ecological importance of pangolins, parrots and other species by banning trade in these species through Appendix I listing, conservation in Uganda has yet another chance to take giant benefit from the Mexico meeting.
“This important convention is a platform to lobby and negotiate for funding from developed countries to support habitats on the priority list. Previously such negotiations have resulted in the signing of key protocols like the Nagoya Protocol which allows for equitable benefit sharing of biodiversity resources and the Cartagena Protocol that protects our biodiversity and agriculture,” said Gesa.
He noted that these protocols have been successful in guiding resource access to communities with an emphasis on economic benefits for citizens around protected areas.
Gesa said the Convention on Biological Diversity originates from the 1992 Rio Earth Summit where 150 World Leaders signed a Declaration committing to promotion of sustainable development.
It was conceived as a practical tool for translating the principles of Agenda 21 into reality. The Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live.
“Within the CBD framework, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is the focal point for the Convention in Uganda but in implementing the convention decisions and resolutions NEMA works with various agencies and institutions. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is for instance the focal point for Uganda on the Program of Work on Protected Areas.
He said that one of the key achievements to date from Uganda’s active involvement in the Convention has been securing funding to the tune of $3m from the World Bank/UNDP GEF to implement a Project for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Threatened Savanna Woodland in the Kidepo Critical Landscape in North Eastern Uganda.
This project under implementation by UWA, NEMA, NFA and local governments recognizes that the Kidepo Critical Landscape of North Eastern Uganda, encompassing eight protected areas under a range of management authorities has received limited investment over the past 20 years due to protracted conflict, and proportionately suffered from lower management effectiveness compared to other sites.
“It’s hoped that more discussions for GEF II will happen at the upcoming CBD COP13 meeting that will give the country another large grant for biodiversity conservation. These funds will do a lot for Uganda’s Kidepo landscape and the surrounding districts of the park, not to mention the important benefits that will accrue for habitat protection in the country,” said Gesa.
The effects of climate change are real and more visible today. Such ecosystem changes have affected species distribution in national parks and have exacerbated the increase of invasive plants.
Animal ranging habits have been distorted altogether, which greatly impacts not only their feeding but visibility patterns to tourists. Though UWA has a fully developed Invasive Species Management Strategy that addresses the interventions and mitigation measures for climate change, it needs funds to fully operationalize it.
Among the highlighted will include making tangible plans to combat climate change and wildlife security including developing novel strategies that can be implemented in our habitats. In addition, a key aspect of the meetings will be to draft policies that will enlist participation of gender responsive conservation that underscores the critical role of women in sustainable use of habitats.
“With these key policy issues in mind, we stand a lot to learn and benefit from this year’s two cycle convention. A busy day in office awaits team Uganda for conservation.