By DUSABEMUNGU Ange de la Victoire
Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, on 22nd August 2023 attended the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Assembly in Vancouver, Canada, where she highlighted the country’s progress in achieving global biodiversity goals. In her speech, Minister Mujawamariya discussed three key lessons that Rwanda has learned in its conservation efforts.
The first lesson emphasized the importance of a people-centered conservation approach. Minister Mujawamariya explained that involving local communities in decision-making processes and ensuring their participation in conservation initiatives has been crucial to the success of Rwanda’s biodiversity efforts.
She gave an example of tourism revenue sharing adding that “Through our unique tourism revenue sharing scheme, 10% of tourism revenue from national parks is invested in the communities living around the parks.”
“The investments are made based on priorities set by the communities themselves.” Minister Mujawamariya explained
Statistics show that approximately nine million dollars has been invested in more than 1,000 community-based projects around Rwanda’s national parks since the start of the programme – from hospitals and schools and water supply systems and maternity wards.
Minister Mujawamariya added that “Today, the communities living around our national parks have become champions for conservation.”
However, she also reminded that “the private sector also has a role to play.”
“That is why a detailed biodiversity component has been incorporated into our Environment and Social Impact Assessment legislation to ensure businesses contribute to achieving our ambitious targets.” She said.
The integration of biodiversity into national legislation and strategies was another key lesson highlighted by Minister Mujawamariya.
She explained that Rwanda has developed comprehensive policies and legal frameworks that prioritize the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. By incorporating biodiversity considerations into various sectors, such as agriculture, tourism, and infrastructure development, Rwanda has been able to ensure the long-term preservation of its natural heritage.
As Minister Mujawamariya highlighted “Any effort to meet obligations under the Global Biodiversity Framework must be guided by national legislation that is intentional about mainstreaming biodiversity protection and restoration. It cannot be a fragmented or piecemeal approach.”
She said that “National biodiversity strategies and action plans must be developed or revised expeditiously and should have ambitious but realistic targets with a clear monitoring and verification framework to ensure we are making real gains.”
Lastly, Minister Mujawamariya discussed the importance of a programmatic approach to conservation. She explained that Rwanda has implemented targeted programs and projects that focus on specific biodiversity conservation goals.
“For example, we are developing an ambitious programme that will restore biodiversity corridors and connect hotspots in the north west and southern parts of Rwanda. It is through this programme that GEF 8 and LDCF 4 funds will be channeled.” She said.
She revealed that “Innovative ways to leverage the GEF funds are being thought about and we appreciate our development partners, including the World Bank, who are working with Rwanda’s team to design appropriate instruments.”
These programs are designed to address key challenges and leverage resources effectively. By taking a programmatic approach, Rwanda has been able to achieve tangible results in its biodiversity conservation efforts.
“To ensure Rwanda is well placed to implement our goals under the Global Biodiversity Framework, the Rwanda Green Fund is in the final stages of establishing a Biodiversity Facility to finance innovative and impactful nature conservation programmes. Funding for this facility will be mobilised from both domestic and international sources.” She explained.
In conclusion, Minister Mujawamariya reminded that “By putting people at the heart of our efforts to restore nature, ensuring our legislation and strategies mainstream biodiversity and moving to a programmatic approach that recognises the scale and opportunity of the challenge before us, I am confident we can meet the goals of the Global Biodiversity Framework and ensure a brighter future for all life on Earth.”