The importance of taking care of our planet and its resources has never been more urgent than it is today. As the world continues to grapple with the challenges of climate change, deforestation, and environmental degradation, the need for collaborative action has become more apparent than ever. In this context, the ARCOS Network’s recent recognition from One Tree Planted is a significant milestone. The award, which was handed over to ARCOS Network on Monday, 26th June 2023, was attributed to the prestigious partners such as the World Resource Institute, MacArthur Foundation, and local communities, for the collaborative efforts in addressing global environmental challenges.
While addressing the invited guests who were present at the celebration event for the award, Dr. Sam Kanyamibwa, CEO of ARCOS Network said “We are celebrating because actually two organizations who are sitting here, One Tree Planted and World Resources Institute. We have gone through a journey which is making a difference.”
He said that ARCOS is a young but not very young organization whose conservation effort is one of the tough jobs it has been doing to make a difference which is going to last for long.
Dr. Sam Kanyamibwa said “We began as a regional organization with the goal of bringing together various actors, including civil society, the government, and the private sector, to acknowledge the issues of land degradation, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, and the significant gap between our impoverished communities and those of us who are fortunate enough to always have food and drink on the table.”
“Our first year was focused on promoting dialogue between different actors and in 2010, we began conservation efforts on the ground. In 2012, we received an award for collaborative conservation action in East Africa from the MacArthur Foundation.” He added.
“You are sitting here in this compound because of the award we received from the MacArthur Foundation. This was our first major celebration in 17 years, from 1995 to 2012. As you can see, it took only 10 years to receive a second award.” Dr. Sam said.
He continues his remarks noting that “We are very happy today. Six years ago, we began working closely with One Tree Planted and the World Resource Institute on restoration. This journey has led to widespread discussions on restoration and tree planting, and we have learned a great deal.”
“I want to take this opportunity to thank our farmers who have worked with us, particularly. They are the true champions. As you know, champions always have to work hard. Even if you win today, it doesn’t mean you can relax.” He explained.
Dr. Sam revealed that the champions are all seeking new opportunities to learn new skills, while farmers have transitioned from being learners to partners.
“I am pleased to announce that we now work with 50,000 households.” Revealed Dr. Sam
“These communities represent our future because when we observe what is happening in our environment, only a few areas are left under their control. Therefore, let us assist them in managing this small land effectively.” He said.
ARCOS Network believes that the communities will demonstrate and represent the islands that remain in these large areas that have been transformed due to development.
“This is why we highly value the restoration movement that is currently taking place. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is of utmost importance due to the rapid pace of development. The environment degradation, biodiversity loss, all this is accelerated by climate change is very fast. So we needed to invest in restoration and particularly the communities.” He said.
“This has been our journey with One Tree Planted. We were very, in a way, very humbled to get the news from One Tree Planted that we are receiving this award as first and Longstanding partner in tree planting in Africa. Actually, this has been a long and good journey. However, we are still learning as restoration is a complex process.” Kanyamibwa said.
He, however noted that “You always need to examine the various elements of the puzzle. Otherwise, you may become overly excited about things happening, but it is essential to be as inclusive as possible. This involves considering a large-scale area and assessing the different benefits for various users in the landscape.”
“That is why it is difficult. And among those users, many of them are going in the opposite direction. We are kind of working with the communities, you see the result. The most difficult one is how do you get those who are also threatening the integrity, the resilience of the ecosystem? How do you get them involved? So it is very difficult. But we need to work together with different partners. This is why here we have different sectors involved, government representatives, private sector representatives. All of us we need to work together.” He added.
Dr. Sam Kanyamibwa reminded that “Restoration is about partnership. It’s about collaboration.”
“So thank you, One Tree Planted. Please pass the message to the management. Pass the message to all the staff. We just tell them we are very happy today, but we are ready also to continue this journey together.” He said.
“Thank you also World Resource Institute, because this has been also particularly a partnership. I remember when the staff of WRI were here a few months ago, we were discussing this issue of restoration, how we need really to actually educate the public about restoration, how we need also to compile the lessons we have so that this can be disseminated to other actors. And I’m happy to say that following the resolution of the board last August, we have now established a regional partnership with the local NGOs.” Dr Sam Kanyamibwa added.
While handing the Award to ARCOS Network, Ange Karitanyi-Project Manager-One Tree Planted-Rwanda said “Today is a great honor that I stand before you all to present the prestigious award for One Tree Planted first and long lasting planting partner in Africa.”
She said “This remarkable achievement signifies the exceptional work carried out by ARCOS Network.”
“I cannot help but feel a sense of pride. Out of our more than 80 planting partners across 27 African countries, ARCOS Network has emerged as the worthy recipient of this esteemed recognition.” She said.
“ARCOS Network has undoubtedly set a high standard in engaging communities, diligently monitoring their work and fostering an incredible partnership with us.” Ms. Karitanyi explained.
She added that “Together we have made a significant impact, not only in Rwanda but across the globe. Just last week, One Tree Planted celebrated the remarkable milestone of planting a hundred million trees worldwide. And it brings me great joy to acknowledge that ARCOS played a vital role in achieving this monumental feat.”
On behalf districts that work with ARCOS, Mr. BAGIRISHYA Pierre Claver, the Executive Secretary of Rutsiro District said “We are delighted to be here with you this evening, and we are grateful for the trust and partnership we have established. Thank you for selecting Rwanda and a few of its districts from among the many options to collaborate with. We promise to be there for you, when you are not there.”
He explained that “Our main objective is to ensure the welfare of our local community is improved. We greatly appreciate those partners who, based on the testimonies we have heard, are benefiting the local people and are working on our behalf. We value your efforts because your main purpose is to improve the lives of the local people.”
“On behalf of Rutsiro district and on behalf of the other districts that you are working with, we take this opportunity to really thank you. And again, we have some few requests. One, many households would wish to work with you. We surely know it’s not easy, but we kindly ask you to keep on expanding. Specifically, in Rutsiro, I know you don’t work with all the sectors, but we wish that, had it been possible, that we expand a bit.” Mr. Bagirishya said.
“We know that slowly but surely we will succeed, but some people are feeling biased because they want to benefit from the same opportunities that their colleagues and friends are enjoying. However, we want to assure you that for the projects you are undertaking, we are committed to being partners and ensuring their sustainability.” He concluded.