On the 6th March, NatureUganda organized a public talk to dicsuss the Topic, “The loud cry of nature; is it an issue of failed environmental governance or just normal natural loss of biodiversity”.
The concept of environmental governance encompasses the relationships and interactions among government and non-government structures, procedures and conventions, where power and responsibility are exercised in making environmental decisions. It concerns how the decisions are made, with a particular emphasis on the need for citizens, interest groups, and communities generally, to participate and have their voices heard. Therefore, the concept does not apply to the province of government alone. It is imperative that we study the actions of the government in terms of environmental policy and decision-making, but we must also observe how citizens take on their own responsibility and develop environmental initiatives.
A lot of biodiversity has been lost and attributed to a number of reasons among them, negligence of humans and question have been paused on whether our policies have done a great deal in ensuring that there is a reduction to this loss.
Mr. Patrick Byakagaba from the School of Forestry Environmental and Geographical Sciences Makerere University gave a presentation on the topic highlighting the principles of good environmental governance as those that look at intergenerational equity, sustainable use, dissemination of information and clear laws among others. He mentioned that decision makers should be held accountable for their decisions and actions as well. He pointed out that the way forward includes improving environmental governance by eliminating political corruption and building consensus on the purpose for biodiversity. Click here for the full ppt presentation.
People need to possess the knowledge that our actions do have a real impact on the environment. Ignorance is no excuse for inaction. With knowledge comes the moral responsibility to act carefully in regards to the environment, on a global, domestic, and local scale. The concept of environmental governance incorporates this ethic.
While giving his presentation, Mr. Onesmus Mugyenyi a researcher working with Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) said that “As a group of biodiversity agencies, how much power do we have? The type of citizens we have; are they sufficiently empowered to defend or question government institutions? Looking at leadership orientation, how are we nurturing the next generation in conserving natural biodiversity? We need to create an ‘environmental movement’, one that is sensitive to environmental issues.”
He further noted that the budget for environment and natural resources has been dwindling citing the years 2002 - 2008. The resources given to research to support planning should be revised. He said that the government should be able to take decisions that may not be popular today but will be in future. Click here for the full ppt presentation.
The discussant Prof William Banage reminded the public that biodiversity loss is a result of human activities in the environment. He noted that we have not zeroed enough on the local problems, for example, alternative Income Generating Activities, alternative development options that are eco-friendly. “We should have a shared interest in conservation otherwise one wouldn’t need to cut down a forest to grow sugarcane but rather use inputs such as fertilizers”. He urged all to consider the aspirations of the world that sustainable development talks about that, environmental, economic and social well-being for today and tomorrow.
In his closing remarks, the Chairman, NatureUganda, Mr Paul Mafabi mentioned that the ‘environmental movement’ is a great idea but this should be backed up by data and that research is required. He further noted that we need to criminalize the trading of votes for environment.