Group 1: Conservation

Desired Outcome

The main goal for conservation partners in the multi-sectoral committee is for development to result in no net loss  of biodiversity and to eventually have a net positive (NNL/NG) impact through: 1) long-term mitigation and offset strategies that promote the sustainable management of natural resources such as forests and wetlands; 2) improved sustainable livelihoods for communities and individuals adjacent to development projects; and 3)  mechanisms that increase tree and forest cover.

Goal: No net loss (conservation values)

  • Sustainably managed natural resources (forests and wetlands)
  • Improved livelihoods (sustainable)
  • Increased tree and forest cover

Development can have direct and indirect impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity.  It is important for all sectors to understand the potential impacts that development will have on all other sectors in order to align development plans and projects with the needs of all.

Direct and Indirect Impacts to Ecosystems and Biodiversity from Development

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Direct impactIndirect impact
Degradation/depletion of habitat Immigration
Displacement of wildlife populationIncreased human/wildlife conflict
Pollution (Noise/waste)Increased demand for natural resources

Policy Gap Analysis for Conservation

Analysis of Uganda’s laws and policies shows that there is no legal or policy provision that explicitly requires NNL/NG of biodiversity. Although in some respects, different laws and policies require preventive or mitigation measures to be undertaken, they don’t ensure the full application of the mitigation hierarchy and cannot therefore guarantee NNL/NG of biodiversity. The concepts of NNL/NG and mitigation hierarchy are therefore not yet fully integrated into Uganda’s current legal and policy framework.

The requirement for implementing the Mitigation Hierarchy (MH) or measures to ensure NNL/NG of biodiversity is not fully integrated into Uganda’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) system. The main focus of the EIA system is on measures for eliminating, minimizing or mitigating adverse impacts. It does not go the full length to cover biodiversity offsets or compensation, nor does not offer clear methods and procedures for conducting biodiversity assessments. Additionally, the actual conduct of EIAs is typically a short period and does not provide for sufficient time to undertake biodiversity assessments that can inform recommendations for biodiversity offsets, especially with regard to the principle of “like-for-like.”

Although some sector EIA guidelines, such as for the water sector, contain provisions on the mitigation hierarchy (MH) that are important for ensuring NNL/NG, these are not stated as requirements nor are they sufficiently backed by law.

The requirement for implementing MH or measures to ensure NNL/NG of biodiversity are not fully integrated into the license and permits system in the different sectors, except where it comes out of a specific EIA study recommending the same.

While Uganda’s legal system provides for performance bonds to ensure compliance with environmental laws and license conditions, there are no specific guarantees towards ensuring that in cases of non- performance, the bonds can be used to facilitate NNL/NG of biodiversity.

Section 41 of the National Environmental Act requires NEMA in consultation with the Lead Agency to issue guidelines and prescribe measures for the conservation of biological diversity. However, to date, no such guidelines have ever been issued. These guidelines provide opportunity for integration of NNL/NG and the mitigation hierarchy in the management of Uganda’s biodiversity.

Policy Actions for Conservation

  1. Strengthen NNL/NG Policy: There should be a mandatory legal requirement for developers of projects or operators of activities likely to cause adverse effects to biodiversity to implement  the mitigation hierarchy and ensure  NNL/NG. The better approach is to amend the existing National Environment Act and the laws of other sectors to include the requirement  of NNL/NG. Amendments take little time to effect compared to enacting new legislation altogether.  The National Environment Bill 2016 and the Draft  National  Environment   (Environment   Assessment)   Regulations  already have provisions to  this  effect.  Including this requirement in relevant sectoral laws ensures  that NNL/NG will be enforced in as many sectors as possible, especially those which impact on biodiversity
  2. Improve the ESIA Process: The laws and regulations related to EIA and SEA should also explicitly provide for biodiversity assessments, the scientific methods for conducting them and the timeframe to  enable  effective biodiversity assessment. 
  3. The legal provisions requiring NNL/NG and implementation of the mitigation hierarchy should be supported by comprehensivguidelines that explain the concepts of NNL/NG and mitigation hierarchy, a step-by-step approach tthe implementatioothe mitigatiohierarchy, options for biodiversity offsets/compensation, etc. Based on the broad guidelines, each sector should develop sector-specific EIA guidelines that address the application of the mitigation hierarchy for achieving NNL/NG of biodiversity. Similarly, guidelines foStrategic Environmental Assessment should be developed to provide a framework for use by the various sectors.
  4. A clear system for accounting for biodiversity gains and losses should be developed. This should be accompanied by a system that quantifies gains and losses and assigns a dollar value to them based on the cost of creating an offset or implementing mitigation and restoration measures.
  5. Follow up and Implementation Guidelines should be given for exactly how to mitigate impacts, conduct ecological restoration and create an offset. 
  6. Government should develop and implement mitigation plans with support from the conservation community.

Multi-Sectoral Actions—NGOs and development partners should provide the following support to government:

  1. A multi-sectoral approach should be taken to broaden and strengthen the existing technical monitoring teams (socio-economic and environmental).
  2. National landscape-level analyses of impacts need to be developed to address indirect and cumulative impacts. These studies should then be integrated into planning decisions and ESIAs 
  3. An analysis of the current status and threats to biodiversity should be done and integrated into government planning. ESIA baseline studies should be required to use this information.
  4. A future desired state road map should be developed that is used to guide planning processes, restoration activities, mitigation and offsets.
  5. Create a third-party ESIA assessment process that audits ESIAs done by consultants. The third-party team should be made up of biological scientists, social scientists and economists.

Next Steps

  1. Create consortium taskforce
  2. Assign roles to the taskforce to achieve the following:
    • Stakeholder mapping
    • Propose ways of collaboration
    • Fundraising
    • Collate data
    • Independent assessment of ESIAs
    • Define strategies addressing indirect impacts
    • Identify and quantify indirect and cumulative impacts.
    • Fast track legislative review processes and inform members.