The 2023 ECOTRUST Annual Stakeholders event, held on December 14th at Mestil Hotel Kampala, celebrated 20 years of the Trees for Global Benefits Programme. The theme emphasized the program’s remarkable journey and achievements. The event showcased interactive exhibitions featuring the Trees for Global Benefits Project Initiatives across four project landscapes: Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Rwenzori, and Mount Elgon. A dedicated booth allowed pioneer TGB farmers to share their success stories and experiences with the project.

In his address, Mr. Isaac Kapalaga, the ECOTRUST Board Chairman, commended the staff and management for the project’s successful implementation and growth. Starting with just 33 farmers in 2003, the TGB project now supports over 50,000 smallholder farmers, with more than 16 million trees planted and over 40,000 hectares of land covered. In addition, a community carbon fund has been established to support a variety of green business initiatives.

Keynote speakers, including Jan Willem den Besten from IUCN-NL and Gitte Dyrhagen Hussager from DanChurchAid, highlighted the project’s achievements and pledged continued support. They emphasized the importance of nature-based solutions and community involvement in climate adaptation efforts.

Issa Katwesigye, representing the Ministry of Water and Environment, congratulated ECOTRUST and the farmers for their dedication to the TGB project. He emphasized the importance of tree growing and sustainable land management in combating climate change.

Winnie Namwirya, a farmer and ECOTRUST Landscape Coordinator, shared her inspiring journey with the TGB project. From planting her first 1,000 trees as a farmer in 2011 to progressing to a farmer leader, an ECOTRUST volunteer, a Project Officer, and now a landscape wide program coordinator, Winnie’s story demonstrated the transformative impact of the project on individual lives and entire communities.

The event also highlighted the transformative journey of the Trees for Global Benefits Programme through presentations by landscape farmer groups. Using GALS tools, they articulated their visions for their landscapes and outlined their pathways to achieving them.

Freddie Kalibwani, ECOTRUST’s Business Development Expert, outlined the organization’s vision for the next decade, focusing on financial resilience, program portfolio growth, and institutional development. He envisions ECOTRUST expanding its initiatives internationally.

The event concluded with an award ceremony honoring TGB pioneer farmers and a symbolic cheque presentation, highlighting the PES payments made to farmers across all project landscapes since project inception. Musical performances by the African contemporary band Tamba Tengeza brought the event to a memorable close.