Kampala - A Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) Fund that will provide cash payments as an incentive for local communities in Uganda to promote conservation and restoration of natural resources has been launched.
The PES Fund which was launched on 25th March 2015 in Kampala, was launched together with 2 other conservations funds; the carbon fund, and the Eco-trust Endowment Fund.
The three funds will be key in curbing several environmental challenges such as land degradation and the effects of climate change through the use of economic means to encourage communities to value the environment around.
The Minister of Water and Environment, Hon. Ephraim Kamuntu who launched the three environmental funds said that they are important since they will contribute to many of the investment priorities identified in the National Development Plan such as; skills development, health, water and sanitation; facilitating availability and access to critical production inputs especially in agriculture; and promotion of science, technology and innovation.
“We hope that these incentives will provide ground for introducing innovations that could lead to changes in current land use and enable farmers to gradually shift towards actions that will enhance their adaptive capacity and livelihoods,” Hon. Kamuntu said.
He added that the Mount Elgon region which has suffered various environmental vulnerabilities including landslides is a suitable site to start off the PES fund.
The use of economic instruments, such as payment for ecosystems services is anticipated to generate additional alternative resources, divert funds to environmentally friendly technologies and sustainable production pattern, create incentives for investment, and increase the involvement of the private sector in environmental protection. It is based on an inclusive agenda that focuses on reducing poverty while enhancing environmental benefits
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director, Ms. Almaz Gebru who was represented by Daniel Omodo McMondo said that the PES initiative is critical in informing the Government of Uganda’s actions and contributing to other national efforts to become a low carbon economy. She added that the funds would catalyse new growth and prosperity opportunities ensuring that no one is left behind.
“PES funds should be pro-poor ensuring that marginalised groups such as women and youth are included and they should also be streamed into environmental policies and frameworks so that every stakeholder from civil society to the private sector are brought on board,” she said.
She also called on the community members who will benefit from the scheme to work harder so as to maintain the ecosystem they live in and also urged all those involved to spread the word about the benefits of natural resources conservation so that more farmers could be brought on board.
“The payment service is just an incentive to enable you move further a step,” the Country Director said.
An interactive session on lessons learned from using the PES initiative in other countries such as Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, United Kingdom as well as Uganda recognised that it was not about the amounts of incentives that were available through the PES but how and what the funds were used for.
The PES fund which covers the districts of, Sironko and Bulambuli for the start, is implemented as a suite of activities under UNDP’s Mt. Elgon Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) Project. It will be managed by the Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda (ECOTRUST), a pioneer of climate financing in Uganda.
The EBA Project is a partnership between IUCN, UNEP, UNDP, and Ministry of Water & Environment Uganda with funding by the Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). The project is geared towards strengthening ecosystem resilience and reducing vulnerabilities of communities to climate change.