May 17, 2022

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Nature does not need us, we are the ones who need nature, Time to act now

By: Ange de la Victoire Dusabemungu

As Rwanda prepares to host the IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress, the Minister of Environment in Rwanda has reminded that human beings are the ones who need nature for their survival on the planet earth.

Minister Dr. Mujawamariya Jeanne d’Arc made the remarks on Thursday during an event that was organized by the Government of Rwanda to unveil three former African Heads of State as Patrons of the upcoming APAC Congress which will take place in Kigali in March this year.

As unveiled, three patrons are former prime minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Dessalegn, former head of state of Botswana, Festus Mogae and former head of state of Nigeria Issoufou Mahamadou.

Speaking at the event, Minister Mujawamariya said that “Africa is entering an exciting phase in its history where development is lifting millions out of poverty. However, she adds, “the increasing demand for food, water, land and energy are pushing our natural systems to their limits, exacerbated by the changing climate.”

She therefore called on African countries to stand up and work together to find solutions to environmental problems, especially on the African continent.

Quoting Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Minister Mujawamariya said: “the African conservation agenda should be driven by us, as our people stand to harness the benefits and it is our responsibility.” end of quote.

Undoubtedly, if African countries prefer to lag behind in implementing environmental protection and natural resource management programs, the challenges ahead will be even greater than one might think.

“It is critical that all African nations and leaders walk this journey together in being part of the Africa protected areas Congress. It is indeed timely as it comes at a time when there is growing global attention.” Minister Mujawamariya said.

She also added that African countries are not investing enough in the natural systems they depend upon.

Statistics show that additional US Dollars 700 billion is needed for biodiversity each year, which equals less than 1% of global GDP. However, Minister Mujawamariya noted that Africa spends less than 10% of what is needed to protect and restore nature.

Minister Mujawamariya

“Protected areas must have access to the financing required for effective management and thus fulfil their role in providing essential biodiversity protection and ecosystem services for people and development.” She said.

According to the Minister, the sustainable economic growth of the continent is dependent on the ecosystem services provided by its Wildlife in protected areas.

“If well managed, Africa will enjoy a favorable environment for water availability, food security, land protection and healthy livelihood. This underlines the urgency of why the Africa Protected Area Congress must take place to allow African leaders to come together and set out a decisive commitment to implement a development vision prioritizing nature and societal aspirations for sustainable and resilient outcomes.” Said Minister Mujawamariya.

“As we were told, we are soon reaching our limit to survive. It’s better we be resilient and live in harmony with nature. Unless all of us are resilient, none of us will be resilient. We have to live in harmony with nature. Because human beings that we are, we are the ones that need nature, nature does not need us. But we need nature. That’s why we have to protect nature, if really, we are mindful of our survival.” She said,

During the event, Minister Mujawamariya assured that the government of Rwanda continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and will implement the necessary measures to ensure maximum safety for APAC participants in compliance with applicable regulation toward elimination and defeating COVID-19.

The IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) is the first-ever continent-wide gathering of African leaders, citizens, and interest groups that will be convened in partnership with the Rwanda Ministry of Environment in March 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda.

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