16 November 2016 | Africa Day at COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco
Good afternoon to you all.
All protocols observed.
It is a pleasure to be with you for today’s dialogue on the role of climate action plans in our response to a warming planet and to share the experience of my country, Rwanda, and our region, East Africa.
The climate challenges we face in East Africa are similar to many across the continent. In some areas, prolonged droughts are having a severe impact on agriculture. In other parts, more intense flooding is washing away homes and crops and causing landslides that tragically claim lives.
In East Africa, climate change is not a problem on the horizon, but a pressing reality we are addressing today. We have seen that all climate impacts, regardless of their scale, effect our national development.
At the macro level, the economic impact is high. A study we undertook in preparation for our Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy indicated that climate change is already costing Rwanda the equivalent of 1% of GDP each year. In the first three quarters of this year alone, torrential rains and drought, as well as other disasters, were responsible for losses amounting to more than 30 million dollars.
At the micro level, the impact is on livelihoods. We are seeing farmers battle longer dry seasons as well as shorter but more intense rainy seasons that are putting extra strain on the vulnerable.
In response, the East African Community developed a Climate Change Policy, a Climate Change Strategy and a Climate Change Master Plan. The policy contributes to sustainable development through coordinated adaptation and mitigation strategies, programmes and actions. The Climate Change Strategy and Master Plan are tools to guide and monitor the implementation of the policy.
While the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement might be causing some headaches in the negotiation rooms, it presents our region and the entire continent with significant opportunities to respond to climate change while also boosting development. The Paris Agreement implementation mechanisms need to be put in place as soon as possible so that we can align them with the implementation of our NDCs.
And so, when solid regional and international frameworks are in place, it is important for each country to have ambitious and specific Nationally Determined Contributions. Our NDCs shouldn’t just be documents that sit in office desks somewhere, they should be the action plan – living, breathing work plans that get more ambitious every five years.
Financing these action plans is also essential and we need to be ready to receive resources from the Green Climate Fund. Rwanda’s Ministry of Natural Resources was the first government entity to be accredited for direct access to the GCF. We have submitted a project proposal for rural economic development in one of our districts and have received 1.5 million dollars from the Fund to help prepare this project.
Despite the need to tap into international climate finance, it’s also important not to wait for external resources to start implementing our NDCs. As we push hard to mobilise 100 billion dollars a year by 2020, we must also see how we can go ahead ourselves and met the targets we have set.
In Rwanda, this approach led us to establish our own Green Fund, which invests in climate resilience initiatives across the country. To date, the fund’s investments have restored thousands of hectares of water bodies, land and forests and employed almost 60,000 people in green jobs, supporting sustainable livelihood development in all corners of the country.
While East Africa’s experience is unique, there are some lessons that can be shared with others. I look forward to today’s discussion so that we can learn from one another and work together to limit global average temperature increases well below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Thank you for your kind attention.
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