Mainstreaming Sustainable Natural Capital Management into Uganda's COVID-19 Recovery Packages

Like the rest of the world, Uganda has not been spared by the trail of damage wrecked by COVID-19, with mixed implications on the economy, society and the planet (natural capital). The 2019/2020 Uganda National Household Survey, released in May 2021, revealed that COVID-19 drove an additional two million Ugandans into poverty, shrank employment by 10 percent from 57 percent before COVID-19 to 47% during COVID-19, and increased the proportion of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture from 41 percent to 52 percent before and during COVID-19 respectively. For this reason, the country is racing towards recovering from COVID-19 effects albeit the recovery is understandably inclined to the economy, which bore the biggest brunt of the pandemic. Importantly, the UN Environment Programme Report on Green Approaches to COVID-19 Recovery (2021) urges that, for effective long term economic recovery, consideration of all dimensions of sustainable development, including the environmental pillar must be prioritized. This Report presents an analysis on the extent of mainstreaming natural capital in Uganda’s COVID-19 Recovery Packages and prescribes recommendations for enhanced consideration of natural capital in the COVID-19 Recovery packages. The report seeks to mainstream natural capital management in Uganda’s COVID-19 Recovery Plans. It highlights and analyzes the existing COVID-19 Recovery Packages, their implications on natural capital, and recommends measures that will strengthen the mainstreaming of natural capital in economic decision making. The Methodological approach entails mapping out of budgetary interventions against five natural capital responsiveness parameters: (I) implication on protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services; (II)ability to generate irreversible environmental impacts; (III)implication on restoration/ reclamation of previously polluted land; (IV) ability to improve agriculture and land productivity; and (V) ability to correct existing natural capital market failures. This mapping is followed by a ranking the scale of the intervention’s impact on natural capital resulting into four categories: (I) strong positive; (II) Weak Positive; (III) Strong Negative; and (IV) Weak Negative.