ENTEBBE, Uganda, July 19, 2017 – Global businesses focused on tourism and conservation will be offered a unique opportunity to invest in Uganda’s unparalleled natural landscapes while bringing greater benefits to the country’s citizens, H.E. President Yoweri Museveni announced today. The Forum is to be convened at the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa on October 6, with site visits to conservation areas, conducted during the two proceeding days.
President Museveni will host the first Giants Club Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum in Uganda in October, to invite responsible private sector investment to maximise the economic benefits from Uganda’s protected areas.
“This announcement today is an important step in our commitment to unlocking the new and innovative investment models needed to effectively protect our most beautiful landscapes and wildlife for the benefit of the Ugandan people,” President Museveni said as he announced the Forum at an event today at State House, Entebbe.
“The Forum is aimed at launching a new initiative to attract tourism into Uganda, make it a destination for high-end paying clients, and secure long-term sources of funding for the protection and maintenance of Uganda’s Protected Area network.
“By inviting conservation-motivated investors to help build a ‘nature-based economy’, we will rehabilitate and manage Uganda’s network of Protected Areas while delivering economic growth.”
Uganda’s Giants Club Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum will provide a platform to bring more of those investors into Uganda, whose business will not only drive economic benefits but ecological ones, too.
The Giants Club and its partners, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and African Wildlife Foundation, are working with the Uganda Wildlife Authority, National Forestry Authority and the Uganda Tourism Board to see which of the country’s 3.1 million hectares of protected areas might suit new international investment, for example new safari lodges, or tourism activities, or support services.
The Forum, at the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa on October 6, with site visits to conservation areas, conducted the two proceeding days, will present the best of those opportunities to interested companies who will bring responsible, sustained commercial partnerships. Their investment will help preserve and manage Uganda’s protected areas.
Key to the Forum’s approach is to create an enabling investment framework and a transparent ‘investors pathway’, to simplify the steps needed to take to launch new business operations under the initiative.
Among those expected to attend are Tourism Operators, Commercial and Impact Investors, Philanthropic and Conservation Organisations, Development Finance Institutions, High Net Worth Individuals, and Sector Specialists and Journalists.
President Museveni called for ideas of how to increase public-private partnerships to fund Uganda’s conservation when he attended the Giants Club Summit in Kenya in 2016. The Forum is the answer to that request.
The Giants Club, of which President Museveni is one of four founding Presidents, gathers African heads of state, global financiers, scientists, and influential individuals, to help achieve its mission to protect half of Africa’s elephants by 2020.
“It’s understandable that in the present economic climate, governments must prioritise where they spend their money, and conservation may not be top of the list,” said Max Graham, CEO of Space for Giants, the Kenya-based conservation organisation behind the Giants Club.
“But it’s also true that there are legions of companies around the world who are very keen to take up that slack, to fund conservation of wilderness areas in ways that also build their businesses. The Forum, uniquely, helps to bring these two sides together, the investors and the authorities, in a way that will drive economic benefits and environmental ones too. It’s a really, really smart idea.”
Kaddu Sebunya, AWF President, said: “The African Wildlife Foundation is excited to be partnering with the Giants’ Club on this important initiative. Uganda is blessed with some of the world’s most important wildlife and wildlands; however, the country needs resources to ensure their long-term conservation and adequate management. That is why AWF is keen to be working with partners in optimizing the commercial opportunities in Uganda’s protected areas and to catalyse effective partnerships.”
Following the Forum, a series of events will be staged across the world to widen the reach of the initiative by showcasing Uganda’s conservation investment opportunities. These will highlight the new investment framework, and convey how potential investors can work with conservationists to protect the country’s ecosystems.
About The Giants Club: An initiative founded by the conservation organisation Space for Giants, The Giants Club aims to unite visionary African leaders of elephant-range states, enlightened heads of major businesses, global philanthropists, key influencers and leading wildlife-protection experts to provide the political will, financial muscle, global influence and technical capacity to look after Africa’s remaining elephants and the landscapes they depend on. The Giants Club states – Uganda, Kenya, Botswana, and Gabon – are home to more than half of Africa’s savannah elephants and three-quarters of its forest elephants. These elephant populations and their habitats represent a priceless natural heritage to their host countries. For more information visit www.spaceforgiants.org/giantsclub/
About the United Nations Development Fund: The UNDP is the United Nations’ global development network. It advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience, and resources to help people build a better life. It provides expert advice, training, and grants to developing countries, with increasing emphasis on assistance to the least developed countries. The organisation operates in 177 countries, where it works with local governments to meet development challenges and develop local capacity. UNDP is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from member nations. For more information visit www.undp.org
About the African Wildlife Foundation: The AWF, founded in 1961 as the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation, is an international conservation organisation that focuses on critically important landscapes in Africa. Its programmes and conservation strategies are designed to protect the wildlife and wild lands of Africa and ensure a more sustainable future for Africa’s people. Since its inception, the organisation has protected endangered species and land, promoted conservation enterprises, and trained hundreds of African nationals in conservation—all to ensure the survival of Africa’s unparalleled wildlife heritage. For more information visit www.awf.org
About the Uganda Wildlife Authority: The UWA is one of the governing bodies mandated to protect and regulate wildlife conservation in Uganda. It manages 10 national parks, twelve wildlife reserves, and fourteen wildlife sanctuaries. UWA also provides guidance for five community wildlife areas. UWA’s mission is to conserve, economically develop, and manage sustainably the wildlife and protected areas of Uganda in partnership with neighbouring communities and stakeholders for the benefit of the people of Uganda and the global community on a sustainable basis. For more information visit www.ugandawildlife.org
About the National Forestry Authority: The NFA was launched in 2004 when it took over management of Uganda’s 506 Central Forest Reserves. Its objective is to contribute to a sufficiently forested, ecologically stable and economically prosperous Uganda. It does so by managing Central Forest Reserves on a sustainable basis and by supplying high-quality forestry-related products and services to government, local communities and the private sector. The NFA has around 335 employees that are deployed both at headquarters and in the field. For more information visit www.nfa.org.ug
About the Uganda Tourist Board: The UTB is mandated to promote and popularise Uganda as a holiday destination, both locally and internationally. It focuses on increasing the contribution of tourism earnings, improve Uganda’s competitiveness as an international tourism destination and boost Uganda’s share of Africa’s and World tourism market. There has been increased investment in tourism, particularly in travel accommodation and related facilities, to enhance tourists’ experience in the country. For more information visit www.visituganda.com