As its core mandate, Uganda Biodiversity Trust Fund (UBTF) in partnership with Rotary Mission Green (a program of Rotary Uganda) and funding support from USAID Uganda raised 100 Million (A hundred Million) in pledges during its inaugural ‘Friends of the Environment’ Breakfast Fundraiser held at Sheraton Kampala Hotel on Tuesday, September 24th, 2019.
The joint ‘Friends of the Environment’ campaign seeks to inspire individuals and the general public to adapt to sustainable and renewable ways of living by focusing on reducing, reusing and recycling whenever possible in order to save the environment and biodiversity loss. The initiative is aimed at raising funds to invest in projects that will help to maintain the flow of goods and services from natural ecosystems, secure health lives of people and wildlife and sustain nature-based businesses.
In her inaugural speech, The Executive Director (UBTF), Juliet Kyokunda emphasized the need for individuals, private sector companies and the government of Uganda to support the conservation of biodiversity, ecosystem services and the environment in light of the ongoing and proposed major economic developments in Uganda.
“Biodiversity is overshadowed by the current competing land-uses such as commercial agriculture, timber harvesting, mining, oil and gas exploration, and UFTF is here to challenge the status quo and champion the change to a healthier and sustainable ecosystem for both humans and wildlife to live in. While going green is primarily for nature conservation, it is also key for economic and social well-being, mental and physical health, and a sustainable future for humans,” said Juliet.
She explained that UBFT was founded to address the principal direct threats to biodiversity conservation in Uganda, specifically habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation; unsustainable harvesting of natural resources, invasive species, air and water pollution, and illegal wildlife trade and wildlife trafficking.
Past District Governor Kenneth Mugisha who is also the Patron of Rotary Mission Green Explained the urgent need for everyone to engage in protecting the environment by planting trees and contributing financially towards the initiatives that protect Biodiversity. Kenneth said that we will soon have no fish in the lakes because plastic bottles have taken their place, charcoal burning has left soils bear with no tree and that its everyone’s responsibility to come out and declare that enough is enough.
The Guest Honor Mr. Patrick Mweheire, the Managing Director of Stanbic Bank Uganda reiterated the need to fight climate change, and pledged that as a bank, they will work with Rotary Mission green and Uganda Biodiversity Fund to write bankable proposals to green climate funds.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Water and Environment thanked all those that turned up for the Fundraiser, and Urged them to each one take part in protecting the environment. On behalf of the Ministry, he pledged support in the process that would see the fund capitalized.
Dr. Arthur Mugisha, the Chairman, Board of Trustees underscored the purpose for the formation of UBTF saying that although there are several fully functional funds in Uganda, lack of trust has not existed for long-term financing for biodiversity conservation projects nationwide until now.
“There has been a glaring gap and demand for an independent third party organization with a foundation of integrity, transparency and professionalism at the core of its operations and dispersal of funds for biodiversity conservation,” Mugisha observed.
Dr. Mugisha commended USAID Uganda and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) for recognizing the gap and gauged interest from other stakeholders to create and implement the national trust fund. He observed that with USAID’s funding, sub-grantees have successfully implemented various biodiversity conservation initiatives that have positively impacted biodiversity conservation over the last three years.
He thanked Rotarians in Uganda for accepting to be ‘Friends of the Environment’, and for Partnering with UBTF in this initiative and called upon them to keep the spirit. Dr Arthur thanked the Guest of Honour, the Ministry of Water and Environment and the country Director of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS Uganda Program), Dr. Simon T Nampindo and his team for their relentless support given to UBTF since Inception.
UBTF in February, 2019 announced the Six organizations that it gave about $300,000 to support innovation in biodiversity conservation in the Albertine region over the next eight months. The grants recipients include: Jane Goodall Foundation institute (JGI) that is enhancing community resilience to losses from wildlife invasions through development of local and regional compensation schemes; Mid-western Region Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (MICOD) that is positioning communities at the centre of Budongo’s biodiversity promotion; Bulindi Chimpanzee & Community Project (BCCP) which is restoring habitat and alternative livelihoods to conserve Chimpanzees on Community Land in Uganda, African Volunteers Association (AVA) Promoting Coexistence between Humans and Plant Diversity in and around Kibale Forest in Kamwenge District , Ecotrust – Biodiversity Conservation & Climate resilience around Bugoma Central Forest Reserve and Raising Gabdho- Promoting the use of Energy Saving technologies in the refugee settlement and the host communities..
The funds are supporting efforts to save wildlife, promote the use of energy saving technologies in the refugee settlement and host communities, protect habitats and inspire communities to take part in conservation efforts in the Albertine region of Uganda.
At least 220 Rotarians, well-wishers and stakeholders showed up and took part in the fundraising campaign.
UBTF is an independent third party conservation organization that was founded following a stakeholders’ agreement to form a unified national platform that addresses the gap of conservation financing in the country. It’s mandate is to raise, manage and channel funds for the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources in Uganda and, the benefit of current and future generations as well as the intrinsic value of nature. UBTF doesn’t implement projects.
The Friends of the Environment Campaign is aimed at changing one’s lifestyle by using products that are considered to be green; to reduce the imprint that is left on the environment, and to contribute financially towards Biodiversity Conservation efforts. Through this campaign, all Ugandans are called upon to join the campaign and at least Donate $2 a year towards capitalizing the Fund.