Financing biodiversity conservation, focus for Africa regional workshop

tourism in Uganda

13-16 June, 2017, Entebbe - Representatives of governments, the United Nations, and technical experts from seven countries across Africa gathered this week to share knowledge and discuss new financial solutions to protect and better manage biodiversity.

Speaking at the opening of the Regional Workshop of the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) in Entebbe, Onno van den Heuvel, Global Manager for BIOFIN said that at the global level, BIOFIN teams are synthesizing the lessons learned from all countries involved and integrating them into key tools and knowledge platforms.

"The BIOFIN Methodology has evolved much during the past years. Lessons from implementation in 30 countries are now integrated into the BIOFIN Workbook and available on the BIOFIN Website," he said.

"BIOFIN Phase II will build on the wealth of learning generated over the last five years. New countries can apply this, while countries that completed their Biodiversity Finance Plan will solely focus on implementation," Mr van den Heuvel said.

Biodiversity (nature) provides enormous value to our societies and economies – clean water, climate regulation, flood prevention, recreation, food, fuel, and fibre, among others. Yet nature’s services are at severe risk.

BIOFIN provides the technical tools and brings countries together to develop and implement evidence based finance plans and solutions to safeguard and better manage biodiversity. 

In Uganda, biodiversity is vital to the economy and population. More than half of Africa's 2000 bird species can be found here and its rich ecosystems house many iconic mammals, reptiles and amphibians. 

This diversity offers economic value and tourism is an important and growing sector. National Geographic has consistently named Uganda, known as the 'Pearl of Africa' as one of the world's top destinations. Rough Guides named it 2017's fourth best destination in the world. 

But these accolades, and a sustainable tourism trade are dependent on the countries healthy biodiversity and Uganda's biodiversity is under threat. A growing human population and the consequent demand for land and competing land-use options, such as agriculture, mining, and timber harvesting – means biodiversity is often overlooked in national planning. 

UNDP's country director Ms. Almaz Gebru said in her opening remarks that it is imperative for projects such as BIOFIN to partner and create synergies with other programs that focus on mobilising finance for conservation and other green growth initiatives. 

"The international community must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Uganda and mobilise investment for our humanitarian and development efforts, particularly as we work on a national strategy to promote green industrialisation and growth," she said. 

There is growing evidence that quality solutions to improve finance for biodiversity management and conservation also contributes to broader sustainable development goals and are crucial to reducing poverty and protecting rural livelihoods. 

“Green growth will enable Uganda to achieve development without harming its environment enabling it to achieve Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals as well as the goals in the National Development Plan II," Ms. Gebru said. 

The Government of Uganda through the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) with support of the UNDP is implementing BIOFIN in Uganda. BIOFIN is a global partnership seeking to address the biodiversity finance challenge in a comprehensive and systematic manner. 

The initiative aims to enable governments to construct a sound business case for increasing investment in the sustainable and equitable management, protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems. Uganda has completed its review and update of the second National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBSAP2) and its strategic objectives have been linked to the BIOFIN methodology to enable the review process to cost and improve the implementation of the NBSAP.