While Rwandan President Paul Kagame and other World leaders have emphasised that the only sustainable way to go in the post pandemic will be the mutual interaction with nature, representatives from various development organisations in Rwanda have emphasised that cooperating with Rwanda in the field of environmental protection is a pride since environmental protection will have great positive impacts on the post COVID 19 world and future generations.
They expressed their satisfaction during separate interviews with TOP AFRICA NEWS at the side-line of the launch of Mayaga Landscape Restoration Project on October 23, 2020.
The same day of the project launch which took place in Nyanza District in the Southern Province of Rwanda also marks the celebration of the 45th Anniversary of Rwanda’s homegrown Tree Planting Day as well as the launching of the 2020-2021 Forests Planting Season.
As they joined the Minister of the Environment Dr. Mujawamariya Jeanne d’Arc in launching the multi-billion Rwanda Francs project to meet solutions to the Mayaga degraded region which has been aggravated by deforestation, the new UNDP country representative, Representative of the Embassy of the Republic of Germany as well as the Belgium development partners undoubtedly emphasised that cooperating with Rwanda in making the world green is as much as protecting the lives of humanity and saving the world we live in.
Maxwell Gomera, the new UNDP Country Representative whose experience is mostly in environment and nature conservation says that “I knew that Rwanda was very successful African story, now it is great to see success in action and what we are doing today is very important especially in these extra-ordinary time when environment, healthcare, economy, political discussions around the world affirm that environment is the only hope that we have to mange and get rid of diseases that are transmitted from wildlife to human beings.”
Mr. Gomera who lauded the Government of Rwanda development initiatives, during the tree planting in the local community in Muyira sector of Nyanza district noted that “What we are doing with planting trees today, is part of helping environment to regenerate and prevent crisis from happening. But it is not just managing the health aspects of it. Environment is actually good economics.”
He explains that “By planting trees today is ensuring that the soils around here have got capacity to be able to support agriculture, to support water retention, but also to enable community around here, to participate in what I call carbon market.
The Mayaga region in Rwanda is one of the most vulnerable parts of the country due to deforestation, which has caused the area to lose its fertile land while it was a food basket for Rwanda.
For this reason, in addition to other parts of Rwanda, the Government of Rwanda in collaboration with UNDP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the Rwanda Environment Management Authority has launched a project of over Rwf 30 billion to rehabilitate the area and promote the development of afforestation and helping the local community in their Development.
Mr. Gomera highlights that “these trees are going to be capturing carbon from atmosphere. The tree planting project is extra-ordinary and what we have done today, in this area alone (Nyanza-Muyira), we have been able to plant 150 hectares, the ambitions is to plant thousands of hectares and to be able to plant 8 million trees throughout the project”
“My mission right now is to ensure that new generations, that are growing up enjoy the same benefits that we enjoyed during our time in the same climate and environment that many others enjoyed in their youth.” Mr. Gomera added.
On the other hand, environmental experts and forest conservationists believe that there are good forestry projects that have been successful such as the Belgian-Netherland Governments-funded Project PAREF which can be learned from so that other projects are as successful as they were.
From the last 10 years since 2008, the Kingdom of Belgium and the Kingdom of Netherlands had been key players in forestry sector in Rwanda with 2 sister projects (PAREF Be 1&2, with 9 million Euros and PAREF NL 1&2 with 16 million Euros).
The two sister projects had similar objectives of increasing the Forestry resources and management through intensive afforestation on public areas and in terms of geographical coverage 15 out of 30 districts were covered (6 districts PAREF Be in East and North and 9 districts for PAREF-NL in North and West of Rwanda.)
According to the Enabel 2018 report, this joint Belgium-Netherlands project had attracted other donors in order to cover the rest of the districts, namely the PGREF intervention of 4.5 million Euros financed by African Development Bank which covered other 8 districts in Southern Province of Rwanda.
According to Mr. Jean Michel Suarez, in charge of Cooperation in the Embassy of Belgium in Rwanda, there lessons that can be learnt from achievements made through the above-mentioned projects and can be used in current situation when the country’s move stays the same to increase the national green space.
“I think that it allowed to develop the model which is very useful because it is also a model which associates the private sector. And so, I believe that this model, it is a model which is effective, which is even in my opinion will be used more and more in other countries outside the border of Rwanda, and I believe that this project also obviously all the surface that can be planted has also allowed the development of working model methods which are effective and which is also appreciated and which will be used in my opinion in other countries of the region” Mr. Jean Michel Suarez commented during an Interview with TOPAFRICANEWS.
The Ministry of Environment also acknowledges the role of the private sector in achieving Rwanda’s vision of afforestation and environmental protection.
Addressing the Mayaga community after the launch of the afforestation campaign for the year 2020-2021, the Minister of Environment Dr. Mujawamariya told the public that Rwanda is committed to contributing solutions to the impact of climate change through a variety of programs including afforestation, agricultural improvement and to addressing other human-activities that harm the environment.
“Forests are the source of Social well-being and Sustainable Development. We urge Rwandans to step up their efforts to plant and protect forests.” Minister Mujawamariya said.
She said Rwanda had promised that by 2020, it would have 30% of the country’s forested area.
“So far, we have surpassed that target. We are now at 30.4%. The goal is to continue …. President Kagame has sent me to tell you that living with forests is not bad. Forests are Health, we use forests to build the schools. So, let’s all work together to plant more forests and maintain them effectively.” She said.
She encourages private forests owners to form cooperatives so that they can be helped to manage them well and benefit from them.
Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES)
Rwanda has now begun to look into how to implement one of the world’s effective programs on working with forest owners through Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), where the owner of an environmental protection service is paid or reimbursed to keep it safe.
In this way, for example, it would be possible to provide livestock to the community, to help them find other forms of cooking energy to avoid cutting trees for firewood, to help them improve agriculture and housing so that they too could play a role in protecting the environment.
This well-known method in Costa Rica has been very helpful and it is later revealed that in Rwanda it has also been found useful and even the Mayaga Landscape Restoration project includes components such as the ones that look similar to the PES.
Rwanda, the first country in Africa to submit its updated NDC
In May, 2020, Rwanda has announced an ambitious climate action agenda that features a 38% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to business as usual by 2030, equivalent to an estimated mitigation of up to 4.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).
The climate action plan, known officially as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), has been submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and forms part of Rwanda’s obligations under the Paris Agreement.
All countries are required to submit an updated plan every five years, each with a greater level of ambition and Rwanda is the first country in Africa to submit its updated NDC, and the ninth country globally.
The updated NDC climate action plan has been informed by in-depth analysis, improved information and data, increased ambition, and an extensive stakeholder driven consultation process. It will see Rwanda invest billions of dollars in the transition to an inclusive, sustainable economy driven forward by green growth and green job creation.
Rwanda’s total emissions are currently forecast to more than double over the 2015-2030 period. Reducing these emissions by 38% will come through improvements in energy production and use, industrial processes and product use, waste management, transport, and agriculture as well as new nature-based conservation initiatives.
To support the country to be more resilient to climate extremes, adaptation initiatives will focus on water, agriculture, land and forestry, human settlement, health, transport and mining.
Taken together, the country’s efforts to limit its contribution to climate change and adapt to the consequences over the next decade will require approximately US $11 billion, made up of 5.7 billion dollars for mitigation and 5.3 billion dollars for adaptation. It is expected that this funding will come from both domestic and external sources.
“Right now, is better than tomorrow!
In addition to the fact that the funding will come from outside and inside the country, there will also be other partnerships in various projects that support all programs in the NDC.
In an interview with Dorothea Groth, Head of Cooperation at the German Embassy in Kigali, she talked about the Germany’s role in partnering with Rwanda in achieving its goals of tackling climate change impacts.
Mrs. Dorothea who was also representing the Government of Germany at the launch of Forests Planting event in Southern Province of Rwanda says that: “Partnering with Rwanda is very important. For Germans, trees are very important. Forests are important. Right now, we do have dying of forests in Germany because of Climate Change.”
“So, we know what it means to rehabilitate and to plant trees and I want it to be here and articulate done. Planting trees to preserve the environment, to preserve the soil, and to have something for the future.”
“Right now, is better than tomorrow! Right now, is better than next year” Mrs. Dorothea said.
Reported by: ANGE DE LA VICTOIRE Dusabemungu461