NEMA spearheads Biodiversity conference

By Irene Mukatsinda

Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) held a meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) of CBD and its Protocols (the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing from 7 – 13 July 2018 in Montreal, Canada.

Uganda is a party to the Convention and its Protocols. The meeting was held to develop and agree on recommendations for consideration and approval by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD. COP14 will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from 17-29 November 2018. COP and COPMOP are the decision making bodies of UNCBD and its Protocols. COP14

During COP14 it was agreed that the regional groups provides the Chairs of SBI in the following order: (i) Africa; (ii) Western Europe and others; (iii) Asia and the Pacific; (iv) Latin America and the Caribbean; and (v) Central and Eastern Europe. Candidates for the Chair of SBI are required to have experience in the processes of the CBD and competence in matters related to the Convention and its Protocols.

Mr Francis Ogwal, the Natural Resources Manager (Biodiversity and Rangelands) at the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) as well as the National Focal Point for the UNCBD for Uganda was elected by the Africa region as the First Chair of SBI. He became the first Chair of SBI globally and also the first African to hold that post. Accordingly Mr Francis Ogwal chaired SBI-2 meeting. Below are some of the key outcomes of the meeting.

Gender should be integrated into biodiversity issues and in this regard, Parties agreed to expedite implementation of the 2015-2020 Gender Plan of Action for the CBD. Uganda has included gender into its revised national biodiversity strategy and action plan (NBSAP).

Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing (ABS) to establish institutional structures and legislative, administrative or policy measures on access and benefit-sharing. Furthermore COP14 will invite the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol. The GEF has approved support to Uganda for implementation of the Protocol.
The biodiversity should be mainstreamed in the energy and mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and processing and health sectors, recognizing that on the one hand, these sectors depend, to varying degrees, on biodiversity and the ecosystem services that biodiversity underpins and that the consequent loss of biodiversity can impact these sectors negatively, and that, on the other hand, these sectors have potential impacts on biodiversity which may threaten the provision of ecosystem functions and services that are vital to humanity. Mainstreaming biodiversity into these is essential for halting the loss of biodiversity. Uganda has put in laws, regulations and institutional framework on environmental impact assessment and this will enhance mainstreaming of biodiversity in these sectors.

Furthermore capacity of technical officers from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies is being built on the application of mitigation hierarchy for biodiversity offsets namely avoidance, minimizing, restoring and offsetting to address impacts especially of mining and infrastructure development projects to ensure no net loss and where possible a net gain.

Enhance synergies among biodiversity-related conventions and other conventions at the national level for example United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); United Nations Conventions to Combat Desertification (UNCBD), Ramsar Convention, Convention on Migratory Species (CMS); Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild flora and fauna (CITES) among others. Uganda is currently implementing a GEF support project on strengthening institutional capacity for implementation of the Rio Conventions in Uganda.

Lastly the meeting agreed the processes for development of the post 2020 global biodiversity framework to replace the current Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 – 2020 which Uganda has domesticated in its NBSAP. Uganda will participate in the global discussions on the post 2020 global framework for biodiversity framework and will take action to domesticate the post 2020 global biodiversity framework expected to be adopted in 2020 during the COP15 in Beijing, China.