On 4 June 2021, in line with the celebration of World Environment Day 2021, the Government of Rwanda with the support United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Rwanda, organised a high-level policy dialogue to discuss Rwanda’s Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy (GGCRS). Adopted in 2011, the strategy is under revision and is expected to help Rwanda achieve its ambition of becoming a climate resilient, inclusive, and carbon neutral economy by 2050.
The main purpose of the dialogue was to bring all actors, including government officials, private sector, civil society, academia and development partners to the same table for an open and frank discussion of how the strategy should be refined to support Rwanda’s efforts to protect its biodiversity and restore degraded ecosystems.
The event brought together government officials from key public institutions such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of ICT and Innovation, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Rwanda Energy Group and the Water and Sanitation Corporation. Development partner representatives from World Bank, African Development Bank, European Union, and the German International Cooperation-GIZ were among the participants. Rwandan Civil Society Organizations and Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation also attended.
“Although legal and institutional frameworks in Rwanda provide for their high-level protection, natural ecosystems and protected areas are not functioning as originally envisioned,” said Honorable Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Environment.
Stressing the need to develop clear and effective national policies and strategies, the Resident Representative of United Nations (UNDP) in Rwanda, Mr. Maxwell Gomera, noted that “Looking after the environment and nature is not a tax on our growth, it is an investment into the future of our children. Everyone has a role to play, everyone has a responsibility.”
Rwanda has set an ambitious target of becoming a carbon neutral and climate resilient economy by 2050. In the short term, Rwanda aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 38% (4.6 million tons of carbon dioxide) compared to business as usual by 2030.
The Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy is one of the national strategies and policies developed to help Rwanda reach its targets. Coupled with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Rwanda needs to mobilize at least US$ 11 billion through private, public funding and aids.
UNDP is currently providing US$ 7.5 million to support the revision and implementation the GGCRS; to build national capacity to implement Rwanda’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement on climate change; and to strengthen capacity for results-based management and monitoring of the environment.
The high-level policy dialogue was also a good opportunity to raise awareness of the need to mobilize resources from development partners and the private sector.
The dialogue led to several recommendations. High on the list is for the GGCRS to prioritize energy production, access and affordability priority, specifically in rural areas through both private and public investment in renewables. Participants noted the need for a special focus on off-grid connection, promoting solar power and supporting clean cookstoves to reduce biomass use.
The country is projecting to reduce its dependence to the use of biomass from 79.9% in 2018 to 42% by the year 2024.
As part of the dialogue, the government committed to mainstream environmental concerns into national policies and plans at local and national levels. Dr. Uwera Claudine, the Minister of State in Charge of Economic Planning at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, committed to fully integrate and monitor environmental issues in the national budget across all sectors, as part of effective implementation of the GGCRS.
The Ministry of ICT and Innovation pledged to support other institutions to scale up the use of technology to respond to pressing issues of climate change and ecosystem degradation, and to better manage national resources.
Participants agreed that more effective collaboration and coordination among development partners could help catalyze tangible results and avoid scattered efforts or duplication.
“We are not competitors. Our mutual work makes as stronger, we need to share information. As we scale up efforts to support Rwanda, we need also to scale up coordination. I am sure we can level up and do things a little bit differently and become more effective together,” said Dorothea Groth, Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of the Republic of Germany.
The participants agreed on a two-month timeframe for providing strategy recommendations that best address pressing issues of climate change.