: E.J. Milner-Gulland, Victoria Griffiths, Julia Baker & Joseph Bull
: National Environment Management Authority Uganda (NEMA), Nature Uganda, International Institute of Environment & Development (IIED), Wild Business Ltd & Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Uganda
Governments, financial institutions and businesses worldwide are adopting No Net Loss (NNL) targets for biodiversity, and using offsetting to achieve this. Biodiversity offsets offer the potential to reconcile the objectives of conservation and development through compensating for residual biodiversity impacts after the mitigation hierarchy has been implemented (avoid, minimise, restore/rehabilitate, offset). Moreover, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) highlighted how offsets can help Parties to achieve conservation goals.
The technical challenges of NNL are widely explored from an ecological perspective within academic literature. However, while international good practice guidance calls for offsets not to make local people worse off, there is a fundamental lack of understanding of how to achieve NNL with regard to people’s use of, and cultural values for, biodiversity, and the social, economic and ecological trade-offs involved.
This is a major challenge for countries where poor people depend on natural resources, where poorly planned offsets can exacerbate local poverty, and where impacts vary by gender and livelihood.
Using the Bujagali and Isimba Hydropower Projects and the Kalagala Offset in Uganda, this work seeks to explore ways in which development and offset activities can result in no net loss of biodiversity while at the same time ensure that local people are no worse off.
Along the Nile River
The World Bank-funded Bujagali Hydropower Project (BHP) was completed in 2012, with a sustainable management plan developed for its offset (Kalagala) to address biodiversity and human impacts. The area has high cultural, livelihood and biodiversity value.
The Isimba Hydropower Project (IHP) is being constructed downstream of BHP (planned completion in 2018) and an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of IHP and its effects on the Kalagala Offset is now being undertaken.
NEMA, the responsible Government agency, and Nature Uganda, a leading conservation NGO, have identified an urgent need to understand how the Isimba project may affect the Kalagala offset while they can influence its implementation, and for general guidance on monitoring and mitigating social and ecological impacts of offsetting in Uganda.
This project will work at a local, national and international level, supporting governments, NGOs and business to integrate local poverty alleviation, equity and cultural heritage into biodiversity offsets for national economic development. From research on the biggest hydropower/offset in Uganda, it will produce, and support implementation of, local and national policy guidance for Uganda, and generate lessons internationally.