International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies


Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Uganda

The Constitution of Uganda is the country's supreme law, and provides that it is the duty of Parliament to enact laws that protect and preserve the environment from abuse, pollution and degradation and also to promote measures intended to manage the environment for sustainable development and to promote environmental awareness. The Constitution further provides that the state has the duty to protect important resources, including land, water, wetlands, oil, minerals, fauna and flora on behalf of the people of Uganda. The main policy is the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) and its accompanying cost Implementation Strategy. The goal of the policy is to ensure a harmonized and co-ordinated approach towards a climate-resilient and low-carbon development path for sustainable development in Uganda.

Featured Legislation

2003: The National Forest and Tree Planting Act was introduced. This Act makes provision for the conservation, management and development of forest resources in Uganda and establishes the National Forestry Authority and a fund for tree planting. The purposes of the Act include the creation of an integrated forest sector, conservation of biological diversity, the devolution of functions and powers in the forest sector and the sustainable development of that sector.

2008: The Atomic Energy Act was approved. This Act establishes the Atomic Energy Council and provides with respect to development and management of nuclear power and radiation safety. The Act also concerns the management of radioactive waste and emergency preparedness and response. The Council is a body corporate, which shall, among other things, issue authorizations and grant exemptions for the possession and use of radiation sources and carry out inspections. The Council shall appoint Radiation Protection Officers. The Act also establishes a Radiological Emergency Response Committee and a Nuclear Energy Unit.

2015: The Plant Protection and Health Act was brought into force. This Act makes provision for the protection of plants from diseases and pests. It consists of 32 sections divided into 6 Parts: Preliminary (I); Administration, Officers And Duties (II); Prevention and Control of Pests, Weeds and Diseases (III); Import And Export Control (IV); Offenses and Penalties (V); Miscellaneous Provisions (VI). The Phytosanitary and Inspection Service in the Department responsible for Crop Protection shall be responsible for the protection of the agricultural resources of Uganda from harmful organisms that exist in the country or could be introduced into the country. The Commissioner for Crop Protection shall be responsible for the administration of this Act. Inspectors shall be appointed by the Minister. The Minister shall appoint a Plant Protection and Health Technical Committee. The Minister may, by statutory instrument make rules for the purpose of preventing and controlling attacks by or spread of harmful organisms or diseases in Uganda.

2015: The Uganda National Climate Change Policy was created. The government of Uganda developed the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) and its Implementation Strategy to integrate climate change in its development planning, as required by the UNFCCC. The main objective of the Policy is to ensure that all stakeholders address climate change impacts and their causes through appropriate measures, while promoting sustainable development and a green economy. At the core of the NCCP is the recognition that climate change is fundamentally a multi-sectoral issue, and that all sectors and categories of stakeholders must therefore be actively involved during the implementation of the policy.

2018: The Biofuels Act was promulgated. This Act provides rules on the production, blending of biofuels in petroleum products and the utilization of biofuels. “Biofuels" means biodiesel, bioethanol and other fuels made from biomass and primarily used for motive, thermal and power generation., with quality specifications in accordance with the national standards. Petroleum products to be supplied in Uganda may be blended with biofuels, in accordance with the requirements of this Act. The Petroleum Supply Act shall apply to all blended petroleum products to be supplied in Uganda under this Act. The Ministry responsible for energy shall promote and regulate the production and use of biofuels and ensure that food security and the environment is not negatively affected by biofuel activities. It shall grant licenses for – (1) the production of biofuels; (2) the storage and transportation of biofuels; and (3) the blending of biofuels in a petroleum product. A person shall not produce, store or transport biofuels or blend biofuels in petroleum products without a license granted by the licensing authority in accordance with the requirements of this Act. A person who is granted a license to produce biofuels or blend biofuels into petroleum products shall, among other things, comply with the occupational health and public safety laws and the environmental laws as specified in the conditions of the license and comply with the established quality assurance systems.

2019: The Uganda Wildlife Act was ratified. This Act provides for the conservation of wild animals and plants and the sustainable management of wildlife in Uganda. The text of the Act consists of 89 sections, which are divided into 12 Parts: Preliminary (I); Institutional Arrangements (II); General Management Measures (III); Wildlife Conservation Areas (IV); Wildlife Species (V); Wildlife Use Rights (VI); Professional Hunters and Trappers (VII); Management of Problem Animals (VIII); International Trade in Species and Specimens (IX); The Wildlife Fund (X); Penalties, Forfeitures and Other legal Proceedings (XI); Miscellaneous (XII). The Act is completed by four Schedules.

2019: The National Environment Act was presented. This Act provides generally for the protection of the environment in Uganda and makes changes to environmental law so as to address emerging environmental issues including climate change, the management of hazardous chemicals, the environmental concerns arising out of petroleum activities and the management of plastics. It also establishes a specialized unit, the Environmental Protection Force, to handle enforcement. The Act consists of 182 sections divided into 17 Parts: Preliminary (I); Institutional Arrangements (II); Funds of the Authority and the National Environment Fund (III); Environmental Planning (IV); Management of the Green Environment (V); Sound Management of Chemicals and Product Control (VI); Control of Pollution and Environmental Emergency Preparedness (VII); Management of Waste (VIII); Establishment of Environmental Standards (IX); Environmental and Social Assessment (X); Environmental Easements (XI); Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (XII); Judicial Proceedings (XIII); Environmental Information and Literacy (XIV); International Obligations (XV); Offenses, Penalties, Fees, Fines and other Charges (XVI); General Provisions (XVII). The Act is completed by nine Schedules.

2021: The National Climate Change Act was passed. It is the latest development in the law concerning climate change in Uganda. The Act is Uganda’s most ambitious legislative step to regulate climate change. It provides an overarching legal framework for enforcing climate change adaptation actions, through which Uganda will be able to make adjustments in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected impacts of climate change. One of the key objectives is to enable Uganda to pursue its voluntary mitigation targets of reducing national greenhouse gas emissions. As a stand-alone climate change law, it facilitates direction, coordination, policy setting and high-level political prioritization in order to mainstream climate change across government functions.

The Act summarily provides for:

  • A framework for the implementation of global obligations arising from relevant international conventions, protocols and agreements;
  • A framework to enhance the resilience of human and ecological systems to the impacts of climate change, taking into consideration the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda;
  • Mainstreaming the principle of sustainable development in the planning and making of decisions on climate change;
  • A contribution towards the global efforts of combating climate change and facilitates approaches that support low carbon climate resilient development; and
  • A framework for the governance, coordination and financing of climate change at all levels.

The Act establishes a National Climate Change Advisory Committee with various functions, including:

  • Advising the Climate Change Department on climate and strategic policy;
  • Identifying obstacles to climate change policy implementation and making proposals for the resolution of such obstacles; and
  • Performing any function that may be assigned to the Committee by the Minister of Water and Environment).

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • A 2015 report created by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Imperial College Conservation Science (ICCN) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) sought to address what drives wildlife crime in Uganda. While there are few opportunities to earn a decent wage in rural areas in Uganda, select members of communities resort to illegal but profitable means, including selling bushmeat, timber or ivory. The report contains evidence showing how, in some cases, corruption among officials can help this illegal trade. Other notable drivers include cultural traditions surrounding natural resource use in Uganda. Indigenous communities living in close proximity to Queen Elizabeth National Park believe that a new bride will not conceive until she has consumed hippo meat, for example. Such socio-cultural considerations pose challenges for interventions against wildlife crime.

References and Further Reading


National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Dr. Akankwasah Barirega:;