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Qatar tribune

Khalid Tawalbeh


In an era when the global climate crisis looms large, nations across the world are striving to answer the urgent call for environmental stewardship and sustainable practices. Among the frontrunners in this critical endeavour stands Rwanda, a country that has garnered international acclaim for its unwavering commitment to green and sustainable policies.

At the helm of this remarkable journey is Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Environment in Rwanda, whose visionary leadership has propelled the nation towards environmental sustainability and conservation. Rwanda’s resolute dedication to mitigating its carbon footprint and contributing to international climate goals is illuminated by a series of strategic measures and policies. Under the guidance of Dr Mujawamariya, the country has charted a bold course towards reducing emissions by 38 percent by 2030 compared to business as usual, and has set its sights on becoming carbon-neutral by the middle of the century. To transform this vision into reality, Rwanda established the Rwanda Green Fund, a pioneering environmental and climate change investment fund offering financial and technical support to bolster Rwanda’s resilience and green growth.

Transition to E-Mobility

In an exclusive interview with Qatar Tribune, Dr Mujawamariya explained how Rwanda is championing the transition to e-mobility, embarking on initiatives to reduce emissions, and combat air pollution.

“The nation has exempted electric vehicles, batteries and charging station equipment from import taxes and duties, advancing the shift towards cleaner transportation. Furthermore, Rwanda’s commitment extends to preserving its lush forests, reforestation efforts, and innovative land allocation strategies,” she said.

These measures, noted Dr Mujawamariya, play a pivotal role in mitigating the country’s environmental impact and nurturing its rich biodiversity. This comprehensive approach reflects Rwanda’s unwavering dedication to creating a sustainable and resilient environmental future.

Collaboration with Qatar

In recent years, Rwanda has forged a strong partnership with Qatar, focusing notably on environmental sustainability and conservation. DrMujawamariya emphasised the enduring collaboration between Rwanda and Qatar in identifying shared interests, especially within the environmental domain. The commitment of both nations was prominently displayed when their respective Ministers of Environment convened during the Fifth UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, underscoring their dedication to addressing global environmental issues.

Dr Mujawamariya drew attention to the pressing environmental challenges Rwanda faces, with climate change at the forefront. Extreme weather events have surged in frequency and intensity, causing grave consequences. Notably, heavy rainfall has intensified, resulting in tragic outcomes. Earlier this year, Rwanda witnessed devastating flooding and landslides that claimed the lives of 135 Rwandans and inflicted significant economic losses, estimated at up to half a billion dollars. Dr Mujawamariya emphasised the urgency of bolstering resilience to combat these climate-induced challenges.

Air pollution, a global concern, has not spared Rwanda. The use of wood and charcoal for cooking, coupled with the proliferation of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, has exacerbated this issue. To combat air pollution, Rwanda has embarked on an ambitious path to expand its electricity grid with clean energy sources. Additionally, the nation is investing in off-grid and household solar solutions, as well as facilitating access to electric vehicles and motorbikes. Rwanda boasts some of the most progressive e-mobility incentives on the continent, with no taxes imposed on electric vehicle imports, charging equipment, or spare parts.

Land Degradation and Conservation Agriculture

Land degradation, another critical concern, was highlighted by Dr Mujawamariya. This degradation is a consequence of increased rainfall events and historical deforestation. Rwanda has committed itself to comprehensive border-to-border landscape restoration through the Bonn Challenge. Furthermore, the country has achieved remarkable success by reforesting 30.4 percent of its land, accomplishing this milestone in 2019. To rejuvenate the land and empower local farmers, Rwanda is channelling investments into conservation agriculture.

The Ministry of Environment in Rwanda, under the steadfast guidance of Dr Mujawamariya, is actively addressing these environmental challenges. The collaboration between Rwanda and Qatar serves as a shining example of their shared commitment to environmental sustainability and conservation. These joint efforts stand as a testament to their unwavering dedication to mitigating climate change and securing a greener future.

Community-Led Approaches

Dr Mujawamariya underscored the pivotal role of community-led approaches in Rwanda’s environmental protection efforts. Central to this endeavour is ‘Umuganda’, a monthly community service initiative. On the last Saturday of every month, citizens across the nation unite in their villages to partake in activities such as tree planting, clean-ups, and the construction of roads and schools. This concerted effort has cultivated a deep-rooted sense of responsibility for conservation and environmental protection within the populace.

She emphasized how Rwanda has embraced green growth as a fundamental pillar of its development agenda. This commitment extends to fostering an environment conducive to green businesses, particularly for emerging entrepreneurs and start-ups. Rwanda’s political leadership is acutely aware of the inseparable connection between economic development and the preservation of the environment.

Clear Vision and Policies

Dr Mujawamariya highlighted Rwanda’s robust legal frameworks, policies, strategies, and institutions that have paved the way for a transition to climate-resilient green growth. The nation has set an ambitious target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, guided by a comprehensive Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy. Furthermore, Rwanda has boldly articulated a Climate Action Plan designed to curtail emissions by 38 percent by 2030 compared to business as usual. Rwanda’s proactive engagement with diverse stakeholders was a significant point of emphasis. The country has nurtured partnerships with development organizations, multilateral financial institutions, civil society entities, and academic institutions. These collaborative ventures play a pivotal role in advancing Rwanda’s ambitious goals in environmental protection and climate action. In the sphere of conservation, Rwanda has reaped substantial successes and continues to drive forward ongoing initiatives:

Gorilla Conservation

Dr Mujawamariya celebrated the outcomes of Rwanda’s community-driven conservation efforts, which have led to a noteworthy increase in the mountain gorilla population. Remarkably, Rwanda is home to the only great ape species experiencing growth on a global scale. The mountain gorilla’s official status recently transitioned from Critically Endangered to Endangered, with more than 1,000 individuals now thriving in their natural habitat.

Locally Extinct Species

Rwanda’s national parks serve as havens for globally significant biodiversity. Notably, the successful reintroduction of the Critically Endangered Eastern black rhino and lion, both of which had previously become locally extinct, is a testament to Rwanda’s conservation efforts. These species now flourish in Akagera National Park.

The creation of Gishwati-Mukura National Park represents a monumental achievement in preserving ancient rainforests and safeguarding chimpanzee habitats. This remarkable endeavour has earned the park the prestigious distinction of being designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Dr Mujawamariya underscored the transformation of a degraded wetland into the Nyandungu Eco-Park, a significant addition to public green spaces in Kigali. Covering 121 hectares, this park boasts a medicinal garden, a Pope’s Garden, ponds, an information centre, a restaurant, and an extensive network of walkways and bike lanes. It has become a haven for over 62 local plant species and more than 100 bird species.

Sustainable Future

Rwanda’s unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability and conservation, as articulated by Dr Mujawamariya, serves as an inspiring global model. Through community engagement, visionary leadership, and concrete actions, Rwanda not only protects its unique biodiversity but also propels the world towards a greener and more sustainable future.

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