a. Valuing Water and Environment resources

Uganda’s economy will continue to depend on the available stock of water, environmental and natural resources to produce goods and deliver services. Industrialization highly relies on raw materials from the environment and natural resources. Increasing forest and wetland cover is vital for maintain water flows for hydropower generation, agriculture, fisheries, domestic water supply, industry, navigation, tourism, wildlife and ecosystems. Preserving water and environment resources is critical for human health and tourism. In addition, mitigating the climate change orchestrated impact of droughts, floods, heat waves and landslides on the livelihood of vulnerable populations is critical for reducing income inequality, improving livelihoods and ensuring energy, water, food and ecosystem security. Additionally, the immense socio-economic value of water is imbedded its chemical property as solvent to almost in all industrial and domestic uses and in the same volume for cultural, aesthetic, recreation and ecosystem services.

In Uganda water is being considered as a driving force in transforming of agriculture from subsistence to commercial farming through irrigation and other inputs. Similarly, the country relies almost entirely on hydropower generation to boost industrialization of the country to middle class economy by 2030.

Therefore, the sub-theme will focus on sustainable use and value addition to water resources, forests, wetland, rangelands and other natural resources for increased incomes and will highlight the importance of raising awareness on the value of water, environment and natural resources in transforming the socio-economic status of Ugandan population and improve livelihood.  Furthermore, it will look into ensuring coordinated and sustainable national infrastructure projects considering that Uganda’s economy relies almost entirely on the stock of water, environmental and natural resources to produce goods and deliver services. It will also address the new approaches to achieving Water-Food-Energy nexus as well as approaches for addressing water scarcity through non-conventional water and environment resources management approaches. Promoting of forest cluster-based wood processing industries and promoting of payment for ecosystem services, biodiversity offsets and benefit sharing arising from use of biological resources

b. Water and environment in a creative economy

Creative economy also known as knowledge and innovation economy is an evolving concept which builds on the interplay between human creativity and ideas, intellectual property, knowledge and technology. Essentially it is the knowledge-based economic activities upon which the ‘creative industries’ are based. The creative economy cuts across the arts, business and connectivity, driving innovation and new business models. The creative economy is both fragmented and society-inclusive. It functions through interlocking and flexible networks of production and service systems spanning the entire value chain. Today it is strongly influenced by the growing role of social networks. These new tools, such as blogs, forums and wikis, facilitate connectivity and collaboration among creative people, products and places. Policies for the creative economy have to respond not only to economic needs but also to special demands from local communities related to education, cultural identity, social inequalities and environmental concerns.

The increasing demand on water, environment and natural resources due to the growth of both the population and economy has put a lot of pressure on quality and quantity of water, and other natural resources. Water and environment are therefore increasingly being valued as economic resources. The price of water depends on quantity and quality as well as on the behaviour of people and market. The value of water for society, peoples’ health and the environment are important factors that should be considered in the valuation process. Considering that water and environment resources are at the core of sustainable development and are critical for socio-economic development, healthy ecosystems and for human survival these resources will be critical in a creative economy in the achievement of the NDPIII targets. Water and environment supports life and social economic activities such as hydropower generation, agriculture, fisheries, domestic water supply, industry, navigation, tourism, and ecosystems. Water and environment resources are also required as an indispensable input into agro-industrialization. It must, therefore, be available in adequate quantities and corresponding quality at the right time and right place in order to contribute to increased household incomes and improved quality of lives of the population.

This sub-theme will focus to innovative solutions for more efficient and productive development and management of water, environment and natural resources for sustainable socio-economic transformation of Ugandan population to the mid-class citizens. It will further make an evaluation of the current position of creative industries in Uganda with a perspective to identify key issues to help the government to form a strategic plan of action aiming at building a strong premise for building its creative economy for employment, trade and development gains.   The sub-theme will also focus on increasing investment in value addition to environment and natural resources products and services, promoting natural resource accounting to improve the national income measurement and marketing of the products using creative economy approach.

c. Managing water and environmental shocks

Water and environmental disasters/shocks include among others, floods, landslides, tsunamis, storms, heat waves, cold spells, droughts, lightening, waterborne disease outbreaks, pandemics etc. These are all becoming more frequent and more intense in past few decades. The impacts and costs of these events are exacerbated by such factors as unplanned urbanization, pollution, industrialisation, population growth, excessive release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and degradation of ecosystem services. Increased rainfall intensity and duration is causing more extensive flooding in both rural and urban areas. Flood protection measures that seemed adequate in the past, often no longer serve their purpose.

Severe weather including heavy rainfall and lighting has been affecting parts of Uganda, resulting in fatalities and people displacement in recent decade. In 2020 alone, number of areas have / are experiencing severe effects of floods that have displaced over 300,000 people, a number of key bridges and roads have been washed away across the country making transportation a nightmare for commuters, damaged over 20,000 houses (Uganda Red Cross Report 2020), water has been contaminated due to the collapse of latrines in rural areas. Furthermore, the May 2020 heavy rainfall resulted in the highest water level rise in Lake Victoria (13.48m) ever recorded since May 1964 in Uganda. This, eventually cascaded into the rise water level in the other major lakes (Kyoga, Albert) within the Nile basin in Uganda which caused flooding and displacement of the communities within the shores of the lakes.

It is these water and environmental shocks that awaken us to focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation, integrated water resources management following catchment based approach, and effective environment management that are critical to the achievement of increased household incomes and improvement of quality of life of the population. Proper wetland management is critical for mitigating flood risks, marine ecosystem maintenance, maintaining water quality and quantity of water resources. Additionally, preserving water resources, environment and natural resources is critical for human health and tourism. Furthermore, mitigating the climate change orchestrated impact of droughts, floods, heat waves and landslides on the livelihood of vulnerable populations is critical for reducing income inequality, improving livelihoods and ensuring energy, water, food and ecosystem security. Sufficient precipitation occasioned by maintaining and/or increasing forest and wetland cover is vital for hydropower generation, agriculture, fisheries, domestic water supply, industry, navigation, tourism, wildlife and ecosystems.

This sub-theme will discuss how societies should manage and develop their water and environment resources to address risks associated with climate change at the same time improving people’s livelihood. The sub-theme will also focus on the role of research, innovation and adoption of green appropriate technology to foster sustainable use and management of water and environment resources and reduce human and economic loss from natural hazards and disasters.

d. Water and environment security for smart urban growth

The national vision to transform Uganda’s economy through industrialization is dependent on the country’s capacity to strengthen fundamentals that drive socio-economic development, which include among others, urban development, land management, water and environment resources management, and innovation. By 2050, two-thirds of the 6.5 billion people will be in urban areas. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces. Making cities sustainable means creating career and business opportunities, safe and affordable housing, and building resilient societies and economies. It involves investment in public transport, creating green public spaces, and improving urban planning and management in participatory and inclusive ways.

Water and environment security has emerged as a primary sustainability challenge for urban areas at national and international level since it is a key determinant for security of other vital societal aspects including the economy, food, public health, and the environment and thus has a complex political spectrum that goes far beyond the traditional water and environment sector. To achieve water and environment security, there is need for policy makers, the private sector, and civil society to create an environment which allows among other things, to enhance livelihoods of the urban poor who encroach on vital natural urban ecosystems, to mitigate and manage flood risk and damage, to efficiently use and manage water and environment resources, to reduce, treat and recycle waste and waste water, to protect and restore urban wetlands and forest ecosystems, and to make use of cross sector benefits arising from continued investment in water security.

This sub-theme will focus on innovation within the urban setting that will involve appropriate technologies in terms of: i) environmental concerns (air pollution, water and soil contamination); ii) poverty reduction and employment generation; iii) economic sustainability (cost benefit, short to long term) and iv) environmental sustainability (resource savings and reclamation, reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions) among others.  Making urban excreta and wastewater management contribute to cities’ economic development and research opportunities for linking sanitation infrastructure design and planning to business opportunities