Speech by Hon. Jesca Eriyo, EAC Deputy Secretary General – Productive and Social Sectors, at the World Environment Day celebrations, June 5th 2015, Rakai, Uganda

Hon. Guest of Honour

Hon. State Minister for Environment, Hon. Flavia Nabugera Munaaba,

Hon. Members of Parliament,

Executive Director LVBC,

Executive Director, NEMA,

Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organisations Present,

The Resident District Commissioner,

Representatives from Lake Victoria Basic Commission,

Colleagues from EAC Secretariat,

The Public/Wananchi gathered here today,

Members of the press,

Distinguished Guests,

Hon. Jesca Eriyo

Hon. Jesca Eriyo

It is a great pleasure and honour for me to be here and to speak to you on this World Environment Day occasion.  I convey very warm greetings from the EAC Secretary General, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera and colleagues from the EAC Secretariat. I recognize with appreciation the Ministry of Water and Environment Uganda; the National Environment Management Authority Uganda and LVBC who jointly organized this function and invited me for it. I am also grateful to our development partners whose generous support has made this annual commemoration of nature possible, and for being here with us.

The global theme for this year’s celebrations, Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care, emphasizes the personal responsibility each one of us bears to support sustainable economic development while stabilizing and reducing the rate of resource use. Protecting nature and using its resources responsibly are prerequisites for human development and well-being, and for building resilient, healthy and wealthy communities. The way we meet our needs today is compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Most of us use and destroy resources as if there is no tomorrow. If people of yesterday did not care about the future, we would be in a worse situation than now. We must honour our past leaders like Semei Kakungulu whose tree planting efforts are still being enjoyed to-date.

We cut trees before they mature and rarely replace them; we harvest more fish than our water bodies can replenish and mostly immature fish compromising their ability to adequately reproduce; and emit more carbon into the atmosphere than forests and wetlands can absorb; yet we keep destroying them.

By using natural resources more than the earth can produce/reproduce means that we are borrowing resources from future generations. Have we asked ourselves “where will they get resources for their use from”?

The local theme today is “35 Million People. Limited Resources. Consume with Care”. Uganda’s population stands at 35 million. By 2050 the population will rise to 100 million. We are happy to join all Ugandans today on this occasion. We all need to consume with care such that we don’t leave our children and grand children at risk.

Ladies and Gentlemen, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted or lost.  This food waste is mostly occurring in the industrialised countries. In Africa 30 to 60% of agricultural harvest is lost after harvesting due to poor methods of storage and processing. In the poor countries 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.  One part of the world has so much food that they throw it away, in another part people are dying from hunger.  We need to do something to reverse this trend.  We need to consume with care. The current global population of seven billion is expected to grow to nine billion by 2050. But the number of hungry people need not increase.  Food waste is an enormous drain on natural resources and a contributor to negative environmental impacts.

The EAC Partner States recognize that a clean and healthy environment is a prerequisite for sustainable development.  The Partner States have agreed to take concerted measures to foster co-operation in the joint and efficient management and sustainable utilization of natural resources within the Community.

The EAC Protocol on Environment and Natural Resources Management was negotiated and signed in April 2006. The overall objective of the Protocol is to promote and enhance cooperation in the conservation and management of the environment and natural resources.

The Protocol for the Sustainable Development of Lake Victoria Basin focuses specifically on the development and protection of the Lake Victoria and is under full implementation through the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC).

The EAC Secretariat and LVBC are coordinating regional environmental initiatives including the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP), the Mt. Elgon Regional Ecosystem Conservation Programme (MERECP) and the Planning for Resilience in East Africa through Policy, Adaptation, Research and Economic Development (PREPARED). The projects were developed within the context of EAC’s framework for a regional approach to the management of trans-boundary ecosystems.  LVEMP II is a trans-boundary project designed to achieve two development environmental objectives. Firstly, the project is meant to improve collaborative management of the trans-boundary natural resources of the Lake Victoria Basin among the Partner States and, secondly, to improve environmental management of targeted pollution hotspots and selected degraded sub-catchments for the benefit of communities who depend on the natural resources of Lake Victoria Basin.

The Mt. Elgon Regional Ecosystem Conservation Programme (MERECP) project aims to promote sustainable use of shared natural resources benefiting livelihoods and mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts in the Mt. Elgon ecosystem.

The Planning for Resilience in East Africa through Policy, Adaptation, Research and Economic Development (PREPARED) Program seeks to address three inter-linked regional development challenges in the region: climate change, trans-boundary biodiversity conservation/natural resource management, and improved and sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

These projects are funded by the US Agency for International Development-East Africa (USAID/EA), The Royal Norwegian Government, the Swedish Government, the World Bank, and the Global Environment Facility. To our Development Partners, EAC values your continued partnership and support.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the EAC is establishing an EAC Carbon Credit Exchange Platform with an aim of enhancing the region’s active participation in the global carbon trading through the Clean Development Mechanism; related to that, the EAC is working on getting accreditation as a Regional Implementing Entity that can access international climate change financing.

Disasters, natural and man-made, are getting intense and more frequent in the region. In an effort to provide a legal framework for the implementation of the EAC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Strategy, a draft Bill on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management has been developed.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Sustainable Development is the ultimate aspiration of the EAC partner states. Restoration and protection of the environment and natural resources opens the door to sustainable socio-economic development. Our emphasis as the EAC is to have a common approach in the protection and conservation of shared trans-boundary natural resources and ecosystems. We will continue to work with Partner States to achieve this and the broad objective of EAC which is to develop policies and programmes aimed at widening and deepening cooperation among the Partner States in political, social and cultural fields; research and technology, defense, security, legal and judicial affairs.

As I conclude, I wish to caution all our citizens in the EAC to have a listening ear to the conservationists. All these people gathered here from different EAC countries, and Organs/institutions, NEMA and leaders who are everyday giving you technical advice cannot tell you what is wrong. e.g. plant trees, don’t encroach on the forest, don’t use buveera, conserve your soils and water; etc. Have a blessed day and wish you all a wonderful occasion.

Thank you for your attention.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

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