National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) has received the 2019 Uganda Responsible Investment (URI) Award for being the best environmental protection organisation of the year.
NAPE was recognized and appreciated for its contribution towards attainment of Uganda Vision 2040 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SGDs) through promoting and upholding international best practices and standards.
The certificate of award was received by the NAPE Executive Director, Mr. Frank Muramuzi on 22nd November, 2019 during a high level Uganda Responsible Investment Summit and award ceremony that was presided over by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The ceremony that was held at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala was organised by Public Opinions and Office of the Minister of State for Privatization and Investment.
Addressing the participants, President Museveni expressed concern over massive degradation of wetlands and forests which he said he will not tolerate any longer. He attacked irresponsible investors who have degraded forests and wetlands thinking they are promoting sustainable development yet they are greatly contributing to climate change.
Mr. Muramuzi said the award manifests the visible achievements by NAPE especially in areas of environment protection and human rights.
“Now that the government has come out to recognize our efforts, it means that NAPE has hit its target and goals as an environmental organization,” Muramuzi said while addressing staff.
Mr. Rajab Bwengye, the Coordinator of Projects at NAPE said that receiving the award is a clear sign of the firm footprint that NAPE has put in the struggle to protect and conserve the environment in Uganda and beyond.
“NAPE has been criticizing big environmental polluters and degraders, manufacturing industries, mining companies, oil companies, companies producing consumer products using chemicals and others. So being awarded as the best environmental organization in the presence of sector players is an indicator that we have done our part to ensure that these private sector companies observe the laws, guidelines and best practices for environmental protection,” Mr. Bwengye said.
NAPE has been at the forefront in campaigns against environmental degradation which among others include; campaign to save Mabira Forest, campaign against Bujagali falls destruction and the save Bugoma Forest campaign.
In 2007, NAPE disputed the giveaway of around 27 square kilometers of Mabira forest to Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL) owned by Mehta Group of Companies for sugarcane plantations. The government in collaboration with SCOUL had proposed to de-gazette this part of the forested land and transfer its ownership to the sugar company. NAPE in conjunction with other civil society groups in Kampala formed a pressure group codenamed „Save Mabira Crusade‟ which mobilized Ugandans across the country and beyond to protest the forest de-gazettement plan.
The government bowed to pressure and abandoned the plan to de-gazette the forest. However, in 2011, the government again attempted to resurrect the de-gazettement plan but NAPE and other civil society met the president who suggested a joint research between the activists and State House on economic values of the forest which would inform the government on their next step. Since then, the government has kept silent on the Mabira forest issues.
NAPE was also against the construction of Bujagali power dam saying it would not benefit Ugandans and it presented numerous social, economic and environmental problems. However, the Government and World Bank did not listen to the concerns of environmental activists and went ahead to approve the dam project in 2001.
Today the dam that was expected to add 250 MW to the national grid is unable to produce 180 MW and electricity demand continues to rise in the country.
In Albertine Region, NAPE has campaigns against Bugoma forest give-away for Sugar cane plantation, campaign on food security and seed sovereignty and protection of sacred natural sites.