On the 6th May 2016 ECOTRUST hosted a stakeholders’ event to provide an update on its initiatives undertaken in the year 2015 at the Sheraton Hotel Kampala. Under the theme Effectiveness & Efficiency in Conservation Financing, this year’s event focused on the progress towards capitalization of the ECOTRUST Endowment Fund. The ECOTRUST Endowment fund is a flexible structure that gives the organization a financial cushion and enables it to meet various stakeholder needs.
The Chairman of the ET Board of Trustees Mr. Jones Kamugisha officially kicked off the event with a background on the organization from its time of inception as a small grants management unit of USAID in 1999 to its current state as Uganda’s leading NGO in the field of conservation financing.
Environmentally friendly business investing.
Ms. Pauline Nantongo Kalunda, the Executive Director of ECOTRUST gave a presentation of the Endowment Fund resource mobilization approaches, which focus on generating a wholesome financial package for conservation that optimizes new opportunities through investments in environmentally friendly business options, which currently include;.The Trees for Global Benefits Programme, a cooperative carbon offsetting scheme through which Foreign Direct Investment in Smallholder Agroforestry is mobilized from the voluntary carbon market, Business case for Ecosystem based adaptation to Climate Change, in which ECOTRUST demonstrates how through careful design, Payment for Environmental Services (PES) can deliver tangible benefits for farmers and other parties involved and finally the Rwenzori Gateway Business Opportunity, a new tourism sector investment opportunity brimming with social and environmental benefits. It is intended to mobilize 5 star investment in transforming the Rwenzori Gateway into a sustainable Tourism & leisure destination.
Conservation as a safety net to catch more of the private sector interest
The event that was presided over by the State Minister for Environment, Hon Flavia Munaba attracted participants from the donor community, Civil Society, private sector, government as well as some of the beneficiaries of ECOTRUST PES payments. In her speech, she congratulated ECOTRUST upon these achievements and mentioned that ECOTRUST is being used as a case study to demonstrate that private sector can play a key role in co-funding
the greening of Uganda’s economy. She mentioned that we have traditionally relied on regulation, exhortation, and cooperation or just keeping our fingers crossed to get the water we want. The Minister further remarked that given that supply of good clean water is increasingly becoming a challenge in both urban & rural Uganda, there is need to think and plan ways of incentivizing landholders to use land sustainably to reduce on soil erosion, which is responsible for silting and sedimentation of rivers, which in turn translates into increased costs for National Water & Sewerage Corporation.
The representative of the Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority, Raymond Egena – Director for tourism and business services at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), appreciated the conservation initiatives by ECOTRUST, most especially the ones at the Rwenzori Mountains. He thanked
ECOTRUST for its contribution to the community development initiatives around the Rwenzoris. He also informed participants that Mt. Rwenzori, which is the highest block mountain in East Africa is the mystical
challenge and invited the audience to challenge themselves to climb the Rwenzori Mountains at least once in their lifetime in order to experience the natural beauty and serenity of the mountain. He highlighted the need for Training of tour guides as paramount on the list of UWA as most tourists lose faith in the few guides that are available due to their lack of academic qualifications. He also mentioned that While Kilimanjaro gets close to 50,000 visitors, Rwenzori only gets 5,000.……………………………..
Mr. Paul Mafabi the Director of Environment in the Ministry of Water and Environment cautioned that money shouldn’t be the main incentive for such conservation schemes to work. Community readiness is very important. He also added that there is strong need for equity in benefit sharing, no community member should be marginalized.
Ground to Global perspective
The representative of the development partners, Mr Onesmus Muhwezi – team leader for Energy and Development at the UNDP country offices remarked that conservation financing is important for achieving the SDG’s, UNDP’s 2040 vision as well as contributing to the national development plan. He further remarked that degradation of natural resources has big implications on our livelihoods and will make our communities more prone to the impacts of climate. He made reference to the UNDP funded pilot programmes such as the Ecosystem Based Adaptation Programme (EbA) in Mt. Elgon which showed that communities which are under bettermanagement of natural resources are more resilient to climate shocks whereas those with poor natural resource management are more prone to disasters such as landslides.
The key highlights of the event included a virtual tour of the Rwenzori Gateway led by the Hon Minister of State for Environment Flavia Munaba as part of the activities to launch this Business opportunity as well as a dummy cheque giving ceremony to recognize the funds disseminated to the various districts in reward for the carbon stocks that have been stored on smallholder farms. A total of 691 million shillings was dispersed to ET carbon farmers last year to the districts of Hoima, Kasese, Masindi, Rubirizi, Mitooma and Mbale. Kasese was recognised as the best performing district receiving three hundred eighty six million in carbon money in the last year. To wind up the event, Hon Minster Munaba drew a raffle ticket to select the winners of the Rwenzori Gateway Gateaway. Congratulations to Kirunda Herbert and Paul Mafabi, the winners of the Rwenzori Gateway Gate away.