July 17, 2024


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Turning Rwanda Green: Six Women leaders to watch in 2023


As the years go by, Rwanda is holding to its promises in creating innovations for environmental protection and implementing conservation programs in an effective and visionary way.

It was in 2012 that Rwanda started programs that targeted the year 2020 to be the year where Rwanda will have 30% of the total territory covered by forests. As the programs have continued to progress and the partners have increased, so far in 2022, Rwanda has 30.4% of the total area covered with forests.

In fact, this would not have been achieved without political will and the cooperation of various partners, all of which are implemented with the efforts of the local communities.

In the analysis of TOP AFRICA NEWS, we have made a list of women who will continue to be prominent in programs aimed at protecting the environment in Rwanda due to the experience they have or the positions they hold in the public sector.

Note: This list may change but does not rule out that they will stop to prevail in 2023 or even later. Here are 6 women to watch in 2023:

Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment

Minister Mujawamariya Jeanne d’Arc

Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya (born 13 March 1970, in Kigali) is a Rwandan politician, currently the Minister of Environment. She was formerly the Minister of Education (formally, the Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Research) in the government of Rwanda as well as the Rwandan Ambassador to Russia.

Minister Mujawamariya is one of the Rwandans who continue to make Rwanda’s voice heard in programs aimed at protecting the environment. Since she became the Minister of Environment in Rwanda, a large number of people continue to understand the importance of protecting the environment mainly due to the fact that she likes to actively participates in community activities sensitizing the community on the importance of the environment and encouraging them to continue supporting the programs of the Government of Rwanda aimed at protecting the environment and dealing with the effects of climate change.

Ms. Kaori Yasuda

Ms Kaori Yasuda is the Country Representative of the International Union of Conservation of Nature in Rwanda, (IUCN Rwanda). She replaced Me. Charles Karangwa, who was the IUCN Country Representative since January 2016 and who now has moved on to become the IUCN Regional Head of Land Systems in Eastern and Southern Africa, and the IUCN Country Representative in Kenya.

Ms. Yasuda has more than 20 years of extensive experience in international development, programme management, operations, and strategic partnerships in Africa, Europe and North America.

Her experience spans working on a number of themes including catalyzing private investment in conservation in East Africa, nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based adaptation, transboundary water resources management, and trans-frontier conservation area financing facility development in Southern Africa.

Kaori Yasuda presented her letter of credentials to Hon Dr Vincent Biruta, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

Since 2016, IUCN has been working closely with the Government of Rwanda in order to support the country in achieving the overall conservation and development objectives.

Since then, the IUCN Rwanda focusses on restoration of landscapes and ecosystems for nature and people, management of water resources for biodiversity and sustainable development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and sustainable financing mechanisms.

In the recent Interview with TOP AFRICA NEWS, Ms. Kaori said that in the short time since she arrived in Rwanda, she has found that the country supports environmental protection programs, and she believes that now is the time for her leadership in IUCN to get involved in the planned programs specially for the restoration of the Eastern part of Rwanda, which is often affected by droughts due to excessive sunshine.

Juliet Kabera

Juliet Kabera is the Director General of the Rwanda Environment Management Authority, to which she was appointed in May 2020. Prior to her appointment, she held the position of Director General of Environment and Climate Change at the Ministry of Environment. Juliet began her career as an Environment Management Officer, at a time when Rwanda was developing much of its forward-looking environmental institutions and policies and enforcement of different laws such as the 2008 law banning plastic bags in Rwanda and the 2019 law banning single use plastics. Juliet served as the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol in the year 2019/2020.  

Juliet KABERA graduated with a Bachelor of Science with a major in Biochemistry from Makerere University Kampala, in March 2002, and in June 2020 she graduated Masters in Conservation MBA at the African Leadership University.

Since he was assigned to the Director General of REMA, this agency has carried out various forests and landscape restoration (FLR) projects including some of which are still ongoing. Among them include the launch of Nyandungu Eco Park, a six-year initiative to promote biodiversity and restore the ecosystem in the degraded wetland to later turn it into an ecotourism park, and Green Amayaga a six-year initiative that will promote biodiversity, foster ecosystem services, increase agricultural productivity and reduce the vulnerability of people and ecosystems to the adverse effects of climate change.

Teddy Mugabo Mpinganzima

Prior to her appointment as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Rwanda Green Fund-FONERWA, Teddy MUGABO MPINGANZIMA served as the Head of Business Development at the same agency. In her previous role, she coordinated efforts to mobilize resources toward the country’s green ambitions.

Mrs Mugabo holds a post-graduate Science Degree in Climate Change and Development from the University of Sussex & Institute of Development Studies (IDS). She also has a Bachelor’s of science in Biology from Hannibal-LaGrange University-Missouri, United States.

Teddy Mugabo’s experience, especially at the moment Rwanda is struggling to find solutions to the effects of climate change through FONERWA, is one of the reasons why she will keep her pace in this struggle. Based on our observations, the year 2023 is one of the years that may feature important environmental protection projects that will be implemented in cooperation with various donors. This young lady will probably continue to work in FONERWA or be transferred to another institution but will not go far from the environment and will therefore continue to be active in this sector.

Ms. Michelle DeFreese, Senior officer at the Global Green Growth Institute-Rwanda

Michelle DeFreese

Michelle DeFreese is a senior Green Growth Officer embedded in the Ministry of Environment of the Government of Rwanda providing support and technical assistance in the areas of policy analysis and project management. She currently manages a portfolio of five projects totaling 5.5M USD and manages several teams composed of staff, fellows, interns, and consultants across different disciplines. 

As a matter of fact, GGGI is supporting and promoting the mainstreaming of green growth in Rwanda’s policies. It works across four priority areas considered to be essential to transforming national economies, including energy, water, landscapes and green cities. 

Ms. Michelle has been working in Rwanda for five years and has often appeared in GGGI’s activities aimed at promoting Green Growth. Based on the experience she has, if she is not transferred to another country, she will definitely continue to be one of the women who will promote Green Growth in Rwanda through consulting and the implementation of profitable environmental projects, not forgetting the Kigali Waste Management project and other projects aiming to promote urban sustainable mobility. 

Kampeta Pitchette Sayinzoga

Ms. Kampeta is the current Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Bank which is now turning open eyes on financing Green projects. The fact that Kampeta leads this bank, which has the IREME INVEST fund in its responsibilities, is one of the reasons why her leadership will be noticed in the 2023 Environmental and Green projects. If she remains in charge of BRD, it is clear that she will continue to closely monitor the activities of this fund, both in the study of projects and their implementation.

Ireme Invest is a groundbreaking new investment facility powered by the Rwanda Green Fund and the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) with support from a range of valued partners. Ireme Invest – a one stop center for green and sustainable investment – was launched with an initial capitalization of $104M to support the Private sector to access green finance.

President Kagame after launching the IREME Invest at COP 27


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