NEMA in project to mainstream Biodiversity Information to Policy Makers

By Bob Nuwagira

In order to empower policy makers with information to streamline national policies and strategies that are considerate to biodiversity conservation, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has launched a project whose aim to mainstream biodiversity information into the heart of Government decision making. The 48 months “CONNECT” project will ensure that biodiversity is taken into account in decision making across government sectors. According to Francis Ogwal, NEMA’s Natural Resources Manager in charge of Biodiversity who also doubles as the Project Coordinator, the CONNECT project aims at improving the decision makers’ access to and use of biodiversity information such it is integrated within national development decision making processes. Francis Ogwal stipulates that the project will bring together biodiversity experts from government institutions, the private sector, civil society groups and the academia to package information and knowledge such that it is more policy relevant, timely and in useful formats. Mr. Edward Okot Omoya the project manager listed among others National Forestry Authority (NFA), NEMA, Makerere University, President’s Office, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, National Planning Authority, Uganda Bureau of Statistics and the Office of the Prime Minister. Other agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda National Council for Science and Technology and the Wildlife Conservation Society, among others have also been mobilized contribute to this initiative. Mr. Omoya emphasizes that there has been a big disconnect between providers of biodiversity information and potential users. “Decision makers are not getting compelling, timely information on how biodiversity contributes to national development objectives such as economic growth and poverty reduction and neither do they have data on how biodiversity loss harms people’s well-being and economic performance especially in natural resources sectors,” says Omoya. The project that is supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nations Environment Program and the World Conservation Monitoring Center is also being implemented in Mozambique and Ghana. The Writer is the Senior Information Education and Communications Officer, NEMA