During its work with districts in western Uganda, NatureUganda (NU) realized that biodiversity was not considered under local level implementation strategies. This led to the development of a project to help local government's mainstream biodiversity into the different sectors. The project was implemented with the support of CSOs and Focal persons who are responsible for alignment of National plans with global plans
Uganda is party to various key biodiversity-related conventions and agreements including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Ramsar Convention, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) the convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild animals (CMS, or the Bonn Convention), the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and others
The role of central government then is to domesticate these conventions/agreements through institutionalization like the establishment of Wetlands Management department, enactment of laws such as the National Environment Act, 1995, dissemination of information among stakeholders and supporting implementation for example; through the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan implementation at National and Local levels.
In May 2018, NatureUganda hosted a meeting for national focal persons responsible for the domestication of these conventions with the aim of strengthening government’s strategies to mainstream biodiversity into policy implementation. The meeting was intended to create a platform for sharing lessons, opportunities and forging a way forward for better implementation of biodiversity mainstreaming in the different sectors. The approach addresses the urgent realization that biodiversity conservation in the country is not responsibility of conservationists alone, but rather, all government sectors.
Participants for this workshop included representatives from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), National Planning Authority (NPA), Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), and National Forestry Authority (NFA) among others.
A commissioner with MWE mentioned that wetlands in Uganda reduced from 15.6% in 1994 to 8.2% in 2017 with 17,100ha of wetlands lost each year but the Environment sector remains one of the least funded in the country with 0.9% of the national budget for the last nine years. It was also noted that Uganda already has some of the best environment policies and government has made significant steps towards mainstreaming biodiversity across all these policies for the different sectors. The challenge however is with implementation because it is usually mazed with politics. .
Another notable challenge is the term “Biodiversity” which is a blend of bio (life) and diversity to refer to the variety and variability of life on earth which is not clearly understood universally especially in terms of what actions should be taken at national planning level.
The other confusing term is ‘Mainstreaming'. "The term mainstreaming biodiversity should be thoroughly unpacked for relevant ministries and agencies in order to include biodiversity in planning and allocate actual resources otherwise without clarity, mainstreaming will remain on paper, 'said Barugahare Vincent, Principal Wetlands Officer – MWE'
Among the recommendations to effectively mainstream biodiversity, the participants mentioned the need for a platform to report on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), to repackage biodiversity mainstreaming by giving it an incentive based approach, to appropriately value biodiversity and guide policy makers, and also for civil society actors to improve lobbying capacity by making budget and solution based cases
The different government agencies and focal persons present pledged to continue working together for the sake of preserving the nation’s rich biodiversity.