Uganda has achieved an impressive economic growth rate estimated at an annual average of 6.6% over the last decade (World Bank 2016). This growth has produced positive changes in the economic, social and environment development indicators. However, this impressive growth has not been inclusive, as demonstrated by the high levels of income inequalities and regional imbalances. The eastern and northern regions of the country continue to lag behind and remain stagnant in terms of income poverty and age dependency levels. Additionally, the growth has mainly been generated by the service sectors, such as banking and finance and telecommunications, which have a low job creation multiplier effect [1].

Consequently, each unit of economic growth has not resulted in an equivalent increase in the employment rate, thereby contributing to the high levels of unemployment. From the environment perspective, natural resources such as forests and wetlands have shrunk, raising concerns about whether the economic growth was achieved at the expense of the environment and natural resources [1].


Despite Uganda’s green economy policy landscape effort is impressive, it is widely acknowledged that poor implementation of existing policies and laws stands out as the biggest challenge to the country’s transition to a green economy [2]. Moreover and more specifically, the country is struggling to cope with increasing pressures from a rapidly growing and urbanizing population which hamper the country’s progress to entrench the principles of sustainable consumption and production. The annual population growth rate of 3% and associated growing agricultural needs, which are among the key factors contributing to deforestation, soil erosion and reduced wetlands cover and, the high levels of youth unemployment estimated at 78% creates more impact on the environment and leaves their livelihoods prone to climatic shocks [2].


Key policies and governance approach

Although the concept of a green economy may be new to Uganda, the practice and principles of it are not new. The core principles of a green economy are mainstreamed in a number of government policies, laws, plans and programmes, including the Constitution of Uganda (1995), the Uganda Vision 2040, the second National Development Plan (NDP II), the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (2015/17) and the National Climate Change Policy (2015) and its draft law [2]Furthermore, a Low-carbon, resource-efficient value chains and circular economy business models will continue to be prioritised building on past support to inclusive green economy, according to Uganda’s multi-annual indicative programme 2021-2027 [3]All these policies and programmes provide the basis for the country’s pursuit of Green Economy Pathways.

The Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy (2017 /18 – 2030/31) has been developed to achieve an inclusive low emissions economic growth process that emphasizes effective and efficient use of natural, human and physical  capital while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide for present and future generations and identifies key interventions in the five high green impact sectors of agriculture, energy, forestry, transport and planned green cities [1]. The envisaged outcomes of the UGGDS implementation are: income and livelihoods enhancement; decent green jobs; climate change adaptation and mitigation; sustainable environment and natural resources management; food and nutrition security; resource use efficiency; and social inclusiveness and economic transformation at the sub-national and national levels [1].


Successes and remaining challenges

The open and participatory discussions on the green growth agenda with various governments and private sector actors have progressively shown the benefits of a circular economy (CE). The private sector has shown a growing interest in CE investments. This interest has particularly focused on industrialization and urbanization, as reflected in the Third National Development Plan (NDP III) 2020-2025 and is expected to be integrated into the National Low Carbon Industrialization Strategy 2020-2040.


Initiatives and Development Plans

Through the support of the Switch Africa Green Programme, Uganda has been able to appreciate and further its interest in green growth development. This project is majorly focused on driving resource use efficiency by adopting sustainable consumption and production principles in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). These enterprises are in the sectors of agriculture, tourism, waste management, welding and trade. However, the project covers a few beneficiaries and faces unsustainable financing challenges given that it is purely donor driven. Expansion of this project to thousands of beneficiaries would expand Uganda’s green energy development opportunities [2].

Uganda Green Incubation Programme is one of the government’s major attempts on implementing the principle of inclusive green growth and equity although it is still at the pilot phase. The programme is aimed at creating green decent employment, enhancing productivity, reducing poverty and ensuring environmental sustainability. It is spearheaded by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development with support from the UNDP [2].

The EU delegation has been able to accompany Uganda through its Inclusive Green Economy Uptake Programme, making Uganda’s policy and regulatory framework conducive to private sector involvement in green and circular economy.  The Inclusive Green Economy focal sector comprises EU projects on access to energy, inclusive green city planning, and access to finance [4]. The programme looks at making Uganda’s policy and regulatory framework conducive to private sector involvements in the green and circular economy. [4].


Goals and Ambitions

Uganda Vision 2040 shows that the country aspires to pursue economic development and socio-economic transformation premised on the principles of a green economy such as equity, environmental sustainability, resource efficiency, climate change adaptation and mitigation and inclusiveness.

Linked to those, the Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy (UGGDS 2017/18 –2029/30) aims to ensure that the goals of the Uganda Vision 2040 and the NDPII 2015/16-2019/20 are attained in a sustainable manner [1]. The general objective of the UGGDS is to provide guidance on priorities, strategies and governance frameworks for implementing the green growth principles within the existing development frameworks towards the sustainable development of the country [1]. Specifically, the UGGDS seeks to[1]:

  • Accelerate economic growth and raise per capita income through targeted investments in priority sectors with the highest green growth multiplier effects;
  • Achieve inclusive economic growth along with poverty reduction, improved human welfare and employment creation;
  • Ensure that the social and economic transition is achieved through a low carbon development pathway that safeguards the integrity of the environment and natural resources.


  • Greening the fish value chains. Overall, fisheries activities along the value chain contribute 3 percent to the national GDP and 12 percent to the agricultural GDP of Uganda. The Fisheries sub-sector employs up to 1.7 million people directly and over 3.5 million people indirectly and fish accounts for over 50 percent of animal protein food with a per capita consumption of 10kg for Uganda.  It is projected that capture fisheries production will increase by 530,000 metric tonnes by 2020 while aquaculture production is projected at 300,000 metric tonnes.
  • Participatory discussions on the green growth agenda showed benefits of circular economy. The open and participatory discussions are indeed an opportunity to progressively develop more the green economy sector.
  • Targeted investments in priority sectors with the highest green growth multiplier effects;
  • Ensure that the social and economic transition is achieved through a low carbon development pathway that safeguards the integrity of the environment and natural resources.