A Day to Celebrate Biological Diversity

Celebrated annually on May 22 is the International Day for Biological Diversity commonly termed the World Biodiversity Day. This year as is the practice, UBF held the event which was co-hosted with National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU).

The theme “We Are Part of the Solution”, encouraged collaboration by stakeholders across sectors, not only from the conservation organizations. The attendees included persons from the donor community, private sector, individuals and CSO/NGOs, and Academia.

The breakfast meeting held at Méstil Hotel was the first phase of the day’s activities followed by tree-planting to restore the Nakindiba Central Forest Reserve in Kaikiri.

UBF Board Chairperson Helga Rainer, and Executive Director Juliet Kyokunda opened the meeting with remarks on the role of UBF in promoting biodiversity conservation in Uganda. They also pointed out the need for the private sector to work alongside NGOs in supporting the fight against biodiversity loss. Other significant speakers included the First Secretary of the EU in Uganda, Ms. Nadia Cannata, and the UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Elsie G. Attafuah both of whom discussed the importance of joint efforts in making conservation preservation a reality in Uganda.

The keynote speaker was Victoria Sekitoleko, Board Vice Chair to the PSFU in charge of Agriculture, Agribusiness and Forestry. Dr Sekitoleko spoke among other things, about the correlation between human health and a healthy environment, and how first personal responsibility followed by corporate, with everyone doing their part wherever they are placed would improve standards of living. “Whether it is through policy by government, clean energy by industries or restoration by individuals,” she said.

The key achievements to inform individuals, organizations, and governments about the state of biodiversity loss in Uganda and the importance to participate in practical achievable means to prevent degradation were emphasized by all speakers.

During the session, stakeholders were handed the UBF Annual Stakeholder Report, a factsheet on the state of biodiversity in Uganda and a souvenir of a lapel pin. The message that resonated through is the effort all sectors need to place on collaboration for the success of biodiversity conservation.

Ms Cannata, spoke about collaboration efforts between governments, private sector and civil society that must be achieved to have conservation goals translated into action. She emphasized the fact that biodiversity is critical for human life and socio-economic development.

Ms Elsie G. Attafuah praised the efforts that conservationists are making to reduce biodiversity loss in Uganda. She urged more partnerships between all stakeholders as did the other speakers.

The Board Vice Chair to PSFU in charge of Agriculture, Agribusiness and Forestry, Dr Victoria Sekitoleko reiterated in her keynote speech the relevance of government bodies like NEMA reaching out to every section of society to make conservation an everyday aspect of society.

Notably, she pointed out realistic measures that can be acted upon to curb threats to biodiversity for example keeping rivers free of waste that pollutes the water bodies and planting trees as often and in as many areas as possible by everyone.

This day should be a constant reminder that all efforts towards conservation are needed for the planet to be saved.