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Uganda advances in the safeguards front towards readiness

Blog | Thu, 08 Sep, 2022 · 6 min read
man in forest

Uganda has continued its efforts to finalize Warsaw Framework elements by working to complete its Safeguards Information System (SIS). In 2022 under the leadership of the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) the country achieved important milestones: having a SIS and submitting its first summary of safeguards information.

Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa with valuable forest resources which are an essential foundation for the country's current and future livelihood and growth. Forests are important for timber, for their role in increasing agricultural productivity and for energy (firewood). They also support wildlife and other forms of biodiversity which are essential for the country's future heritage and for generating foreign exchange through a tourist industry focused on the diverse flora and fauna. However, the natural forest cover has experienced a strong decline the past decades. Forest cover went down from 24% of the total land area in 1990 to 9% in 2015. A total of 3.05 million hectares of forests have been lost in 25 years. Out of this loss about 2.2 million hectares were from woodlands. Data show that the forest estate outside of protected areas reduced from 68% of the total area of forested land in 1990 to 61% in 2005 and to 38% in 2015 – a loss of nearly half of the unprotected forests in just 25 years.

Direct drivers of deforestation and forest degradation are expansion of subsistence agriculture, unsustainable harvesting of tree products (mainly for charcoal, firewood and timber), expanding settlements and impacts of refugees, free-grazing livestock, wildfires, artisanal mining operations and oil exploration activities. Indirect drivers are also relevant such as demography, high dependence on subsistence agriculture, natural resources and biomass energy, as well as competing economic returns from land that disfavour long-term investments in forestry, amongst others.

Uganda joined the REDD+ mechanism in 2008 when it became a participant of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). Since then, the country made good progress regarding the Warsaw Framework elements to complete the readiness phase. A national REDD+ strategy was ready in 2017, a Forest Reference Emission Level (FREL) submitted to UNFCCC in 2018, a BUR and a REDD+ Technical Annex in 2020, and a National Forest Monitoring System was available and finalized in the same year. The only missing piece of the Warsaw Framework was the Safeguard Information System (SIS), one of the key requirements to access Results-based Payments (RBP).

In this context, UNEP under the UN-REDD Programme supported technical activities aiming to develop the SIS. Following the Country Safeguards Approach, in 2022 Uganda finalized its Safeguards Information System (SIS) webpage whereby key information on safeguards guidance, tools and advances are disseminated. Additional opportunities for strengthening the SIS have been identified and work is ongoing to gather complementary safeguards information that will be included in the system.

In addition, the country elaborated its first summary of safeguards information, which was drafted with support from the World Bank and received feedback from UN-REDD. This first summary of safeguards information was submitted to the UNFCCC in 2022. It discloses how Uganda’s REDD+ process has addressed and respected Cancun Safeguards. In addition to Cancun safeguards, Uganda implemented World Bank safeguards policies and processes as part of the requirements under the FCPF.

Uganda will continue strengthening its performance towards addressing and respecting the REDD+ safeguards, as well as efforts to monitor and report on safeguards.

AuthorsBob Kazungu, Nathan Mununuzi, Victoria Suarez and Yoann Allanic.