April 23, 2024


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What lesson should we draw from President Kagame’s address at Climate Adaptation Summit?

President Kagame addressing the summit on 25th January 2021

By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU

On Monday, January 25, 2021, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda addressed the participants, via the Climate Adaptation Summit which was held virtually since the COVID 19 pandemic doesn’t allow humanity to convene in a physical place as we are used to.

An example of COVID 19 may open our eyes to more consequences than COVID 19 if we do not value the measures we must take to deal with the effects of climate change.

In fact, such gatherings (Climate Adaptation Summits) are not just about sitting down or discussing anything other than the key and important issues that need to help the world cope with the effects of climate change that threaten the planet where Humanity lives.

In addition to the fact that Rwanda is experiencing these effects in a variety of ways including untimely rains, droughts caused by extreme sunshine in some parts of the country and floods affecting parts of the country; these are the effects that are visible to everyone’s eyes.

However, there are also the addition of various diseases resulting from the regression of the seasons yet the root of that regression is human actions that  can no longer respect the natural haven that we all live in and it is not the world that will hold us down rather our actions if we continue to undermine the current situation.

In his timely speech, President Kagame reminded the international community that this year 2021 should be a year when everyone should reflect on his/her role in tackling another global catastrophe, namely “climate change.”

He said “Investment in climate adaptation strengthens our societies for future growth and prosperity. Let’s make adaptation a priority for 2021 and beyond.”

Children standing near Nyabarongo river in Rwanda

 At this point someone can be   wondering, “Looking at the   effects of the pandemic on us   now, isn’t this a good time to   reflect on which role we must   play to make Earth, our   mother planet, regain our   love  as the first creature in   Eden did referring to the Bible?”

We usually don’t know what it would be like if human activities were in line with the instructions given in Eden.

What we know is that through the pictures we have seen, Eden was a beautiful place which is green with good weather, clean water and rivers and in addition there was the good relationship that existed between humans and animals.

So what is it like today? The answer, however, is not that we expect to restore the originality of the Earth as it once was, but it is also possible that there is something to be done to reduce the pressure we put on the earth planet and the later hopefully will reduce the stress caused by climate change that continues to cause serious problems to human beings.

In his speech, President Kagame reiterated “Climate change, after all, is a fact which calls for social and economic resilience to protect livelihoods.”

As one should draw a lesson from that quote, It means that if there is no tangible action for everyone to participate from the grassroots to the international level, climate change in addition to causing us floods, draughts, deaths and more, it will also lead to famine, population and global economic disruption, the next generation will be in danger but we know for sure that everyone present now wants to leave a good world for children and their descendants.

Again President Kagame reminded that “”Last year, Rwanda established Rwanda Water Resources Board to ensure integrated, long term planning around water, irrigation and climate. The Netherlands Government is a strong supporter of these efforts, particularly with new technologies.”

This is absolutely true. Even before the establishment of the Board for Integrated Water Resources Management or Rwanda Water Resources Board, there was a lot of work done by various water management experts in Rwanda in collaboration with the experts from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

At different times during the review, experts asked questions such as, what various projects that can help Rwanda achieve its anticipated goals in integrated water management. Here there is another philosophy behind the question and answer?

Some demand: what could be done to restore a certain Catchment to its original form? What can be done to get the community involved? What are the long-term benefits from restoring a particular Catchment? All of these indicate that the country is looking for lifelong solutions in the field of environmental protection and tackling climate change.

President Kagame reminded that “Rwanda’s ambitious National Determined Contribution commits to a 38% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To meet that goal, we are working to preserve forests through Public-Private partnerships for forests management, together with investment partners

The Government’s commitment to tackling the effects of climate change starting with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is important and to achieve this requires the participation of everyone from industrialists, consumers, farmers, religious leaders, youth, women, and everyone at their own level whether in public or private roles.

This year, during celebration of the Tree Planting Day in Rwanda, the Minister of Environment, Dr. Mujawamariya Jeanne d’Arc went on to say that everyone is required to contribute to the growth and protection of forested areas in the country.

Somewhere she said that even if you have a small plot of land or you don’t even have one, you can at least plant three trees in your home yard!

In addition to the fact that it can produce edible fruits or adds the beauty of the home yard, however, it is broadly in line with Rwanda’s efforts to reduce air pollution by 38% by 2030 in a simple understanding.

In Nutshell, there is no point in waiting for the planet earth, our mother, and to blame us for the bad actions we have done against it to the extent that the changes that have taken place are the ones that are attacking us.

This time we should reaffirm our efforts from small actions to broad actions including the demands for independent legislation to make our determination work, otherwise indeed 2021 be the beginning of additional tangible actions so that by the year 2030 we can re-examine ourselves and ask, “What have we achieved with our National Determined Contribution?”

 We all believe that outcomes will be better when it comes to tackling the effects of Climate change as we also believe that the technological innovations will continue to support our actions in this journey.


Apart from Direct quotes from President Kagame’s Speech, available here, this opinion contains personal ideas from the Author. The Author, (Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU is the renowned Rwandan Journalist reporting on Environment and is the Chief Editor of www.topafricanews.com, the Pan African news website operating from Rwanda. 

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Ange de la Victoire Dusabemungu

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