Rwanda commits to a green recovery on World Environment Day

At this year’s World Environment Day celebration, Rwanda has committed to a green, sustainable recovery as the country manages the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement was made by Minister of Environment, Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, while speaking to more than 250 partners and friends from around the world who joined a digital event marking the important annual occasion. 
 
“In Rwanda, we are working across government to ensure our economic recovery is green and climate resilient. Some of our priority interventions include air pollution control and air quality monitoring to avoid rebound effects, effective medical and hazardous waste management, investment in digital infrastructure to further enable remote working and developing more sustainable models for production for agriculture, mining and industry at large,” Minister Mujawamariya said.
 
The high-level discussion on 'Biodiversity: Time For Nature’ was organised by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and was attended by representatives from the Diplomatic Corps, development partners, public and private institutions involved in biodiversity and natural resource management and environmentalists. It was marked by a panel discussion, presentations and the awarding of youth green innovation champions. 
 
In her remarks, Minister Mujawamariya urged everyone to understand the role of biodiversity in our daily lives and address the threats faced by ecosystems around the world. 
 
“I encourage all Rwandans and friends around the world to take time for nature. Take time to be in nature and experience its many wonders. Take time to think about how your livelihood and well-being depends on nature. Take time to understand the critical role that ecosystems like forests, wetlands, rivers and lakes play in maintaining the ecological balance and enabling our shared prosperity,” she said. 
 
The panel discussion moderated by Proffesor Beth Kaplin, Director of the Centre of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management, gave attendees the opportunity to ask questions related to tourism, environmental management as well as the impact of COVID-19 on funding for biodiversity conservation. The discussion featured representatives from REMA, GGGI Rwanda, UNDP Rwanda, the Rwanda Development Board, and IUCN Rwanda. 
 
Asked about how we can lessen the impact of COVID-19 on biodiversity, UNDP Resident Representative, Stephen Rodriques, said: “The first thing we can do as partners is support the national recovery journey and fill some of the financing gaps for conservation that have been created by the decline in tourism and other revenues. The second is to advocate for biodiversity and the environment to be a priority in recovery plans.” 
 
With the support of UNDP, REMA organised a competition for young entrepreneurs to encourage them to integrate the environment and climate change into their business and develop green innovations. Five of the best projects were awarded between one million and four million Rwandan francs each.
 
In her closing remarks, Minister Mujawamariya urged everyone to be an advocate for Mother Nature while adhering to the guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 
 
"We need to care for nature because nature cares for us. We are the only species with the power to destroy Mother Earth, but also the capacity to protect it,” she said. 
 
Rwanda’s high-level digital discussion marked the official closing of National Environment Week, an annual awareness campaign that precedes World Environment Day.