Between 2016 and 2020 Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and its partners, established a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), a semi-autonomous Government of Uganda Agency with the mandate to coordinate, monitor, regulate and supervise environmental management in the country. The MoU aimed to bolster the implementation of the COMBO Project "Conservation, Mitigation of Impacts and Biodiversity Offsets". Towards the end of 2022, this MoU was renewed and aligned with the activities under the COMBO+ Project (2021-2025).

In line with the MoU, a Technical Assistant (TA-COMBO+) to support the implementation of COMBO+ activities within NEMA was recruited. On Tuesday 15th August 2023, the TA-COMBO+ was officially introduced to the NEMA team. The occasion was officiated by Mr Francis Ogwal, the Senior Manager (Planning and Coordination) on behalf of Executive Director of the National Environment Management Authority and Dr Grace Nangendo, the Director Conservation Planning at the WCS Uganda Programme.

Speaking at the event, Francis acknowledged and commended WCS for their continued support to NEMA and to the other agencies of the Government of Uganda in executing their mandates. He noted that WCS, and the COMBO+ programme, through its activities has honed stakeholder understanding of the issues of biodiversity conservation thereby creating a rationale for mainstreaming conservation aspects in institutional operations. On the other hand, Grace thanked NEMA for being great partners. Grace also noted that the embedding of the TA-COMBO+ was timely considering the very recent shift in Uganda’s legal framework towards achieving no net loss and preferably net gain (NNL/NG) outcomes for  biodiversity and for people, based on the holistic implementation of the mitigation hierarchy including biodiversity offsets in the context of project development.

The TA-COMBO+ will work with other experts within NEMA to support the institution with respect to the application of the mitigation hierarchy, implementation of rigorous biodiversity offset requirements, in line with Uganda’s Guidelines, and capacity building on the mitigation hierarchy within and outside NEMA. It is expected that capacity building will strengthen internal capacity of NEMA technical officers to apply the mitigation hierarchy and evaluate biodiversity offsets to foster biodiversity conservation and environmental protection in Uganda and support good outcomes for people. Both speakers expressed gratitude to the Agence Française de Développement, (AFD) for supporting development in Uganda via their expansive project portfolio, and for supporting – alongside the Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM) - initiatives like COMBO+ that aim to ensure that such developments do not culminate into loss of ecological and/or social integrity.

At the event, 150 copies of the Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) framework for Uganda’s second National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (NBSAPII, 2015-2025) were handed over by WCS to NEMA for further dissemination. Certificates for participants of the mitigation hierarchy training held in Gulu City for technical officers within sub-national authorities (cities, districts and municipalities) were also handed over to NEMA by WCS as the convenor of the training.