Kampala. Businesses that intend to keep their profits in future will have to invest in biodiversity conservation, Prof EJ Milner-Gulland from Oxford University, has advised.
Delivering her lecture themed: “How government, business and civil society can work together to revolutionise biodiversity conservation”, Prof Milner-Gulland said it will be very challenging to keep profits up if businesses extract from the environment and disproportionately invest in it.
“And you only need to look at the fact that the insurance sector is getting more and more behind climate change, more in conservation…because they are the people who are gonna get more heat when costs are incurred,” the biodiversity professor said in Kampala during The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) Lecture Series on Tuesday.
AKDN is a non-denominational development agency founded by the His Highness, The Aga Khan.
Tuesday’s lecture focused on the importance of conserving biodiversity, on which Uganda’s development agenda is hinged.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on earth that includes ecosystem diversity, species diversity and genetic diversity. Uganda has a rich biodiversity which attracts many tourists into the country.
Tourism has risen to become one of the top earners contributing nearly Shs7.3b to Gross Domestic Product in the financial year 2015/2016. Unfortunately, Uganda is experiencing massive depletion of forests, lakes, wetlands and rivers home of different animal and plant species. Available statistics indicate that the country is left with only 7.4 million hectares forest cover down from 50 million hectares in 1900 and wetland cover is at 8.3 per cent land area coverage down from 15.6 per cent in 1994
As US President Donald Trump’s administration seem not interested in investing more in environment conservation compared to the Obama administration, some participants at the Tuesday lecture wondered what will happen if Mr Trump withdraws funding.
However, US ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac, who was among the participants, downplayed the fears insisting that US government and businesses have, and will continue to fund biodiversity activities in Uganda and elsewhere.
“Certainly there are a number of climate change denials in our Congress and elsewhere but what will eventually play out is way too early to know. We will continue to believe that there will be ways found to move forward on this issue,” ambassador Malac said.
Despite all the ‘noise’ on the new administration, ambassador Malac said through US Agency for International Development, her government has bankrolled many environment projects in Uganda.
The latest, she said, is a $100,000 (Shs361m) grant to kick start the Uganda Biodiversity Fund.
The money is aimed at supporting innovative approaches to conserve and mitigate human wildlife conflict in Albertine Rift region.
“I encourage you all to go back to your institutions, governments, and business and think seriously about how you can make a practical impact on helping to preserve Uganda’s wonder biodiversity that we all appreciate and want preserved,” she said.
Prof Gulland said biodiversity conservation needs partnership and it cannot be sole role governments.
“Government cannot do things on their own.